Insurance costs drive questions about Sheriff’s vehicles
Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson questioned the listing of vehicles on the county’s insurance coverage, particularly those under the Sheriff’s Department, during the August 4 commission meeting.
Hutchinson said there are 21 vehicles being insured for the department this year, and that number had dropped from 25 the year before.
Each car or truck in that department costs the county $954 to insure per year, mounting up to a $20,000 insurance bill for the law enforcement office.
“We have 10 deputies and one Sheriff. Why do we have 10 additional vehicles?” asked Hutchinson.
Commissioner Brad Close said he thought some of the cars were being used by the Deputy Reserves, but wondered why those cars would carry the same coverage as active duty police cruisers.
Current vehicle list
Hutchinson also wanted to know about changes to the insurance list.
“What happened to vehicles that were listed on there last year?”
Hutchinson asked. “Where did they go?”
County Administrator Jody McClintock said this was the first year she had helped prepare the insurance listings for the WV Risk Pool, the county’s insurer.
“We can only change coverage once per year,” McClintock told the commissioners, in regards to their question about downgrading policies on the reserve vehicles.
Chief Deputy Tony Link fielded some of the questions later in the August 4 meeting, noting that 13 cars were being used by deputies and six were assigned to reserve officers.
He agreed that reserve cars should be dropped down to liability coverage only.
Sheriff will decide
Link said the Reserve deputies use the cars to assist with funerals, provide coverage at high school sports events and help with traffic control during accidents or fires.
“Is there a way to have three cars and have them share those?” asked Commission President Stacy Dugan.
“The question is not about their job or service, but about cost savings on our insurance,” said Hutchinson.
“We appreciate the job they do,” Dugan said.
Link said Sheriff Vince Shambaugh would have to make the decision about how Deputy Reserve officers were assigned cars.
Hutchinson suggested that county officials poll commissioners in other parts of the state to see how they assign vehicles to Deputy Reserves.
Link agreed that two of the department’s inactive vehicles – a Dodge Durango and an older Crown Victoria – were no longer useful and should be sold.
The county will post those cars for sale in an online auction for government agencies.
Link said he didn’t know what had happened to some of the cars that had been removed from the insurance policy.
McClintock wondered if some of those vehicles had been out of service for some time, and simply hadn’t been dropped from the policy until this year.