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DA County Sheriff concerned about aging fleet of patrol units

Dona Ana Sheriff Enrique Vigil is worried about the condition of his aging fleet of patrol units.

“We’re using parts from some older vehicles we have retired to keep the rest of the fleet going. That’s embarrassing,” Vigil said. He and his fleet manager told ABC-7 90 of his 220 patrol units are unsafe for daily use.

According to Steve Dunn, the fleet manager for the Dona Ana County Sheriff’s Office, many of the patrol units have in between 100 and 200,000 miles.

That does not take into consideration the amount of time patrol units are idle, meaning the engine is running but the vehicle is stationary. Dunn says each unit could have more than a million “idle miles.”

“These units are very tired. We’re concerned about our officer’s safety. We’re concerned about our public,” Dunn said. “An officer can get a call and an axle can fall off, a transmission can fall off, the engine can seize and then that officer is not going to be able to respond to the needs of the community.”

The ABC-7 New Mexico Mobile Newsroom learned the county allocated $770,000 for the purchase of 15 patrol units.

Vigil said those units will arrive in May. An additional 15 units should be ordered at the start of the next fiscal year in July, according to Vigil.

Vigil said that is not nearly enough. “It’s about making sure (my deputies) have the proper tools to do their work,” he said.

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