Fewer vehicles, pricier vehicles impacting Boone County Sheriff’s Office fleet

Law enforcement agencies, like the Boone County Sheriffs Office, is having trouble bringing new vehicles into its fleet amid current vehicle price trends.
Published: Apr. 19, 2022 at 4:15 PM CDT
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HARRISON, Ark. (KY3) - Law enforcement agencies, like the Boone County Sheriff’s Office, report trouble buying new vehicles amid current vehicle price trends.

The sheriff’s office sets aside $90-100,000 for new vehicles annually. Chief Deputy Roy Martin says it usually can afford three to five new cars, which is necessary to stay on top of the mileage and wear law enforcement vehicles can take.

The agency has only received one new vehicle this year due to current market prices and limited availability. The sheriff ordered that vehicle 14 months ago. If you’ve been looking for a well-priced car recently, then you know right now, they’re hard to find.

”Normally, there’s ups and downs in the car market. In the past two years, it’s been nothing but this,” said Mike Yarbrough, owner of Yarbrough Auto Sales, “Years ago, we just went to market. We bought what we wanted, repurchased it, sold it. It was an easy business.”

Yarbrough, who has been in the auto sales business for over 40 years, says the current market may be the worst.

Like at the sheriff’s office, the effects trickle down, where they’ve only bought new vehicles in recent years.

”We went back to buying new, and that’s the way we keep our fleet up,” Martin explained. “We take some of the older cars and still utilize them at the sheriff’s department and then put those new cars out to our deputies that’s out here patrolling the highways.”

Martin says fewer reserve vehicles can make summer lake patrol more dire and challenging. The sheriff’s office has even looked into purchasing used cars, with little luck.

”We’ve looked at some used vehicles, but the prices are so high, and that’s just the demand right now,” said Martin. “They’re not going to sell us a car at $20,000 when they can sell it at $35,000.”

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like market values will be changing anytime soon. Yarbrough visited a car auction Tuesday and says all is the same.

”Today, everything I looked at was $2,000 over what top booked it,” he said. “So I mark down a price, I go to bid on it, and it still brings in another $2,000 higher. Then I’m expected to take that then turn a profit still.”

Chief Deputy Martin says the sheriff’s office already sees the effects. It has recently had near-totaled vehicles usually replaced. Given the market, those cars are in the shop for repair.

The sheriff’s office may have a chance to purchase additional vehicles in mid-July but admits the opportunity does not look promising.

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