By Mike Kruzman /

A program that would assign each Livingston County sheriff’s deputy their own patrol vehicle continues to gain steam through the approval process.

The Deputy Assigned Vehicle program has seen success in savings in several law enforcement agencies that have implemented it, including the Michigan State Police. In January, the Board of Commissioner’s Public Safety Committee approved a resolution in support, and Monday, a similar resolution was before their General Government committee.

The goal is to increase the Sheriff’s Office’s fleet by 14 vehicles, starting with five this year. Each deputy would be assigned their own, rather than partnering up like they currently do, and take their vehicle home each day. This will ideally decrease maintenance costs while increasing vehicle life span, visibility in neighborhoods, and efficiency during shift changes. It has the added benefit of keeping deputies socially distanced during the pandemic.

To help facilitate the program, changes would be made to the department’s leasing plan. Currently, the Sheriff’s Office leases for 48 months and then switches out vehicles following the last payment. They would now enter into a 60-month lease, with the anticipation of buying out the remaining book value after 5 years. That buyout time is expected to be 5.5 months, and they anticipate keeping the vehicles for 7 years, on average. Sheriff’s Murphy explained the benefits, saying that as they operate now, they are always making payments. With the new program, they will be paid off after 5.5 years and will have 6-18 months without payments, generating savings that aren’t necessarily represented in the final numbers.

Preliminary estimates for starting up the project last month were around $290,000. That total was missing several variables, however, and Murphy along with LETS Director Greg Kellogg, who oversees the county carpool service that handles its leases had more accurate numbers ready for the General Government Committee. After adding in the buyout rates (approximately $138,000) and resale values that were not originally included (approximately $420,000), the total comes to $847,934 over 10 years. It was noted that there are still unknowns, however, such as the resale values on new Durangos and Chargers that the department is using.

The Sheriff said they are flexible and if they start down this road and if the bottom drops out of the economy, this is a program that can be put on hold and reassessed. The public safety committee approved the resolution for increasing the fleet, which was approved by the county finance committee Wednesday morning, and now goes to the full board for final approval.