Sheriff Bobby Grubbs said his department would never have bought a vehicle like the 2006 Hummer H3 parked Wednesday outside the Law Enforcement Center, fully equipped for law enforcement use and bearing sheriff’s office markings.
“This vehicle seized from a drug dealer,” a message painted at the bottom of the Hummer’s doors proclaims.
The vehicle is one of three the sheriff’s office has obtained and outfitted at no cost to Brown County taxpayers, Grubbs said. The total value of the three vehicles — the Hummer, a 2009 Chevrolet Tahoe and a 2009 Ford F-150 pickup — and their equipment is $97,000.
Grubbs explained how the vehicles were obtained and outfitted.
• Hummer — worth $20,000 to $24,000, seized in November 2008 after a traffic stop led to the arrests of four people and discovery of crack cocaine and marijuana.
Seized drug funds were also used to pay the $10,000 outfitting expense. The vehicle has been assigned to patrol Sgt. Jimmy Simpson.
• Tahoe — worth $25,000 and paid for with a federal grant. Seized drug funds and revenue generated by Evercom — the system that allows jail inmates to make phone calls from the jail — paid the $10,000 outfitting cost.
The department’s K-9 unit, consisting of deputy James Stroope and Izzy, uses the vehicle.
• Ford F-150, worth $25,000. A state environmental grant paid part of the cost. Seized drug funds and Evercom revenue paid the remainder of the cost and the $5,000 cost of outfitting the vehicle, which has been assigned to environmental deputy Michelle Holder.
“Each one of these is a welcome addition to our fleet,” Grubbs said. “I feel like this is a good thing. It’s beneficial to the county, it’s beneficial to taxpayers. It helps us offset a tight budget year, too.”
Grubbs said the Hummer was “kind of served up to us on a platter, so to speak. We use it. Most of the vehicles we seize are not that good of a vehicle. This has worked out well.”
Grubbs said half the Hummer technically belongs to the district attorney’s office. “They’re letting us use their half of it instead of making us sell it,” he said.
Grubbs said it has been more beneficial to put the Hummer into use rather than sell it. The sheriff’s office’s share of funds from selling the vehicle would not be enough to buy a new patrol car, Grubbs said.
Sheriff’s Capt. Tony Aaron said the Hummer’s advantages include four-wheel-drive and lots of storage space.