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CG police chief answers concerns about department’s new vehicle

COAL GROVE — If you live in the village of Coal Grove, you may have noticed a new police vehicle on the streets.

Recently, Coal Grove Police Chief Eric Spurlock acquired a salvaged 2000 Ford Expedition so he could give up his cruiser to the other officers.

Spurlock said several people in the community have expressed concerns, either to him personally or via online forums, that the vehicle was paid for by the citizens and is an unnecessary expense.

Essentially, the villagers did pay for the vehicle — through money from traffic tickets.

Spurlock said for every ticket written in the village, $10 goes in the police department’s equipment fund.

“That’s what I spend to buy equipment to keep the department going,” Spurlock said.

The initial cost of the SUV was $2,600 and was purchased from a salvage yard in Greenup, Ky. A new, white paint job cost about $850. Previous estimates, Spurlock said, were around $1,600. It cost $250 to add the police markings and striping.

To outfit the SUV with police gear, like a radio and a light bar, cost about $2,500. This week, the equipment will be installed for a cost of about $1,200.

About $1,500 was taken from the village’s general fund to purchase parts needed to repair the SUV, which had been previously wrecked. Parts included a new bumper, grill, fender, hood and wheel joint.

“The only reason I did that is because my equipment fund was down,” Spurlock said. “I didn’t have enough money to do it.”

Ryan Carey donated his time to repair the SUV, Spurlock said.

“He donated his labor to the village,” he said. “Never charged me a dime. He did an excellent job.”

Spurlock’s 2009 Crown Victoria cruiser will return to the department’s fleet, making the total four for the officers. A fifth car was recently taken off the road due to rising and constant maintenance costs. Spurlock said the car would be stripped for useable parts and auctioned off.

Both Spurlock and Coal Grove Volunteer Fire Department Chief Gary Sherman approached the village council about adding a fee to the water bills to create a fund for the departments to buy needed equipment and vehicles.

“The fire chief and I approached council a while back about a fee,” Spurlock said. “We needed some new vehicles. When that didn’t happen I went the next best route and bought a salvaged vehicle to fix up.”

Spurlock said new cruisers range in price from $28,000 to $34,000.

Spurlock acknowledged that gas prices are high, but that his need to drive around in the SUV is minimal.

“I’m not out there writing tickets,” he said. “I’m in (the station) doing administrative stuff.”

Another added benefit of having the SUV, Spurlock said, is it gives the department a four-wheel drive vehicle for winter months.

In another measure to have money for the department, Spurlock said his officers have begun to walk the streets of the village a few hours a day, instead of drive their cruisers.

“The first evening they did it, in a high-drug area, they said doors were slamming and windows were going down and everything,” he said. “That way, too, they get out and meet the public.”

Spurlock offered anyone with questions or concerns about the police department to call or come to his office at the village townhouse.

 

Follow Michelle Goodman on Twitter: @Michelle_Journo