Older patrol cars may be putting deputies at risk, sheriff says

Older patrol cars may be putting deputies at risk, sheriff says

DECATUR COUNTY, TN (WMC) - Decatur County Sheriff Keith Byrd is concerned that their older patrol cars are putting his deputies in danger.

"It's a constant struggle to keep cars on the road,” Sheriff Byrd said.

It’s a problem he said many small, rural counties face.

"One of the struggles we have with a limited budget is salaries and the vehicles,” Sheriff Byrd said.

He said his department only has about 20 patrol cars. Between old age and wrecks, he said many of them are in need of repairs and even more need to be replaced.

"Most of the cars we get in accidents in is because of animals, mostly deer,” Sheriff Byrd said.

Not only are these cars unreliable, Sheriff Byrd said driving them can put deputies at risk.

Sheriff Byrd said the old fleet of cars clock in with hundreds of thousands of miles.

"You can see the wear and tear on the interior,” Sheriff Byrd said.

But in order to pay for new ones, Sheriff Byrd said the county commission must vote on a new budget.

He said he has made that request before, but until a budget increase is passed, Sheriff Byrd said his department must make do with what they have.

“Practically everything we do is with officer safety in mind,” Sheriff Byrd said. “I am thankful for what we do have, and the people we do have.”

Sheriff Byrd said he is also pushing for higher salaries for his employees.

He said many deputies leave Decatur County to work for other agencies that pay more money.

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