Cherokee County Improves Patrol Vehicle Maintenance

Date: Sept 24, 2021

Author: Keri Thornton

Location: Tahlequah, OK

"Deputies are responsible for maintaining their own patrol vehicle and ensuring they can get to their next call.

Cherokee County Sheriff Jason Chennault said his office has around 30 vehicles, with six new ones purchased within the last year.

Donations from Cherokee Nation are placed in an account designated for leasing vehicles, maintenance, and operations.

While vehicle breakdowns and crashes are not quite common at CCSO, brakes, tires, and oil changes are the main areas of expense.

“To the point that they’re broke down and they can’t be driven – it’s really not that often, but it does happen,” said Chennault. “We do maintenance on them all of the time, and with that many vehicles on the road and as much as they’re driven, there’s always maintenance.”

Anytime maintenance is done on the vehicles, deputies give a report to the administrative assistant, who then gives a copy to Lt. Jarrod Rye. He is in charge of every CCSO vehicle maintenance record.

“Each deputy is assigned a vehicle and it’s up to them to keep the maintenance up. We pay for it but it’s up to them to make sure it gets done. Jarrod tries his best to keep on top of it because he tracks everything that is done,” said Chennault.

Tire changes are not monitored by mileage, but by conditions, as every vehicle is driven hundreds of miles in a short amount of time.”

“We can’t do mileage and it would be nice if they could go 40,000 miles, but it’s pretty much whenever they see they need new tires. Usually, they will ask Capt. Derrick Grant or Rye to come inspect the tires and make that determination then,” said Chennault.

Each and every investigator and deputy who are paid can take their patrol vehicle home.“It’s a privilege to have a take-home vehicle. Most sheriff offices in the state do that just because our deputies are in service once they walk out of their door and get in their vehicle. They don’t have to come up here and get a vehicle,” the sheriff said.

The Tahlequah Police Chief Nate King said TPD has gone to an Enterprise Fleet Management System to keep better equipment on the streets.

The program allows TPD to offload vehicles and invest those funds back into the fleet. King said the department used to spend up to $40,000 on maintenance of all vehicles.

“This program is a way to not only update our fleet, but it is also a way to offload our fleet when those vehicles reach end-of-life cycle," King said. "This program would move our cycle for vehicles from 11 years to five years.

"King said the $40,000 a year on maintaining vehicles will go toward payments to new vehicles.

Historically, TPD spent over $48,000 on vehicles that have over 85,000 miles on them.

The city entered into a lease agreement for four Dodge Charger police vehicles at the request of King in August. King and others flew to Florida to pick up the vehicles and drove those back to Tahlequah.

"We will have around 40 operational vehicles. Enterprise Fleet Management is what we are using now [and] we'll still have 25 other vehicles once we get all of the Enterprise cars," said King.

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