Bartholomew County struggling to find vehicles for deputies

Bartholomew County is having a hard time finding new police vehicles for its deputies, so the sheriff’s department is broadening its search.

Capt. Brandon Slate brought a proposal before the county commissioners this week to seek bids to purchase five Chevy Tahoes in either a police package or a special service package. That comes after difficulties finding police-rated vehicles in previous attempts. Slate said that last year, the department could not find any suitable vehicles to purchase. A purchase order was made in October of last year for 12 Ram 1500 trucks, but the department still has not received any vehicles.

Slate said that the department has also reached out to Ford and Chrysler looking for vehicles without any luck. He said those manufacturers are telling the department that they are not planning to produce anything suitable in 2024.

He said that the difference in price between the Chevy SUV and the Ram pickups, are very minimal once the police equipment is factored in. The towing capability, storage space and resale value of the Tahoes are also expected to be higher.

Although the department would prefer the police pursuit package, Slate said that they are opening the bid process up to the special service package also, in the hopes of finding some available vehicles. Slate said that in the past the department has benefited by being able to piggyback on a large state bid for vehicles, but this year there are no contracts in place for the state to receive police vehicles.

Commissioners approved the request for bids on the purchase. The notice to bidders is due to be published Wednesday and Thursday, with the bids to be opened in early January.