Spotsylvania News

Jeff Branscome writes about Spotsylvania County.

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Supervisor Pitts, Sheriff Face Off Over Cruiser Cash

I’ve reported here a few times how the sheriff asked for about two-dozen cruisers to replace ones that have anywhere between 70,000 to 130,000 miles. 

Supervisor Benjamin Pitts last night said he could not justify spending the money when he sees a few $52,000 Ford SUVs on the list.

Sheriff Howard Smith shot up from his seat and said that the price includes equipment.

Pitts then asked why the sheriff’s office was not taking the equipment from the old cruisers and using it for the new vehicles. Smith said some of the equipment they are and some they cannot reuse.  

This conversation resulted in an agreement that the county needs to update its policies for replacing county vehicles. The sheriff said he does not have the luxury of going to the car lot and picking up a new vehicle when one is dead or in the shop, as some other law enforcement agencies have.


Major Michael Timm created a memo on April 4 that tallied the official mileage of the 11-oldest cruisers.


  1. 120,531
  2. 108,903
  3. 101,509
  4. 110,524
  5. 122,000
  6. 110,233
  7. 101.000
  8. 113,000
  9. 106,473
  10. 134,600
  11. 103,733

"I welcome the board to tell me what you want and when you want to replace vehicles. It is always been at 100,000 miles," the sheriff said. "If you want to replace them at 150,000, that’s what we’ll do.

"I just think we need to come up with a standard policy based on best practices," Supervisor Hap Connors said.

Supervisors asked the sheriff if he could live with just replacing six cruisers. He said all this would do is prolong the problem, and that they would have to be replaced at some point. 



  • lgross

    In lean budget times… the Sheriff can’t hold onto vehicles a bit longer than he normally goes?

    come on…..

    what do ordinary folks do.. when their own budget is lean and they’d like a new car?

    besides.. if the Sheriff helps out a little and then later on loses a car.. the BOS is going to refuse to replace it?

    what a load of stuff… they spent 20 minutes talking about this… and I think it turned into dueling testosterones more than anything worth that much discussion.

    The Sheriff had to show that he was not going to be walked over.. and then vice versa…

    real intelligent dialog…

  • dobreshunka

    Are expected to last well past 100,000. Most 2005, 2006 and 2007 will get closer to 200,000 if they are taken care of. But if you have a deputy driving it home 25 miles each way (which is about what you need to do to leave the County) that’s 50 miles a day times 250 days worked or 12,500 miles a year. So in two years, 25% of the life of the vehicle is used just getting the deputy home.


  • gramps

    taken a page out of the School Board/Hill play book. Thus the BOS finds itself between the proverbial “rock and hard place.”

  • therestofthestory

    won’t replace my car until it reaches the point of cost effectiveness. That is more costly to repair than replace. Has the sherrif or for that matter anyone else in the county, including the Schools, ever presented any empirical evidence.

    Dobre…why never critical of the School Boards spending?

  • dobreshunka

    Can you find any examples of the schools wasting money?

    If you can, post it. It’s just to easy to say they are, but people need to show examples.

    Sure you can say the population is only growing so much, but the price of gas has increased over 30%. Buses run on gas. Schools re heated with gas. If that goes up 2% every year… but it does not.

    Their books are wide open. All you have to do is look online.

  • gramps

    wasteful, but I certainly think overly fancy school buildings are not necessary.

    gramps aka Bill Haas

  • lgross

    It’s not about waste. It’s about prioritizing the things that you can afford verses taking a fiscally irresponsible approach.

    There will never be enough money to buy all the good things that people think are needed…

    .. not in their home budgets and not in govt budgets

    what schools are ENTITLED to is last years budget plus inflation plus student growth.

    then there needs to be an honest and transparent discussion about needs verses what can be reasonably afforded.

    In good times… you can advance a little. in leans times you need to hunker down.

    the “waste” challenge is like a guy buying a new car that he cannot afford.. and then claiming that he does not waste money.

    The money that schools spend is not theirs and taxapyers are not serfs who provide whatever govt says they want.

  • CorranH96

    Those Police Interceptors Crown Victorias can do 250,000 miles or so.

    How many of his vehicles are be using for decoy duty (i.e. attempting to slow drivers down by parking a car with no one in it on the side of the road) on Germanna Point Drive or Mine Road?

    The best idea I can think of is the following: Purchase a couple new vehicles, outfit them, and only use them when you run out of old vehicles. I.e.: Run the old vehicles until they die.

  • southwest

    Supervisor Pitts, thank-you for trying to put a stop to things being done as usual. I think the Sheriff (Smith) can do a better job with providing a more resonable request when presenting his budget. We don’t need $52,000.00 vehicles for any county employee regardless if they are a deputy or the County Administrator. Supervisor Pitts, keep up the good work.