Marion County Sheriff posts pictures of his broken-down cruisers on Facebook



MARION COUNTY, Fla. - The Marion County Sheriff's Office is calling itself out for having shoddy equipment.

Deputies are complaining about their patrol cars, which they say are constantly breaking down.

Over the past few months, the Sheriff's Office has posted several pictures to Facebook of its patrol cars broken down on the side of the road.

The idea came up after a nasty battle with commissioners to get more money in the budget to buy new cars.

Deputies told Channel 9's Renee Stoll that it is a safety issue, not just for the deputies, but for the public as well.

One Facebook photo features a car that was being towed to the county auto shop after the radiator hose blew while the deputy was driving, covering his window with fluid so he couldn't see.

Other pictures show cars that have broken down because there were as many as 200,000 miles on them.

Nearly 70 percent of the county's patrol cars are more than 6 years old and have more than 100,000 miles.

Stoll compared that to Osceola, Lake and Volusia counties and found Marion's fleet has far more cars with more than 100,000 miles.

"Some people want to compare -- you know, 'my private vehicle has over a 100,000 on it and it's still in good shape and it still runs great,'" said Capt. James Pogue of the Sheriff's Department. "These vehicles are driven for 12 hours straight a day."

In a nasty public fight over extra money for the sheriff's budget, county commissioners refused to help replace the aging fleet.

And so the department decided to take to Facebook.

"We thought that it was important for the public to really see the condition of some of our equipment," said Pogue.

Pogue said some of the cars even broke down with lights and sirens going on their way to a call.

"Now your response time is even longer than it was," said Pogue.

The sheriff was able to buy 35 cars by not filling several open positions.

And it took a narrow vote of commissioners to eventually get the cars fitted with the necessary law enforcement gear months later.

"This same topic's going to come up again. We cannot go year after year without purchasing new cars," said Pogue.

The Sheriff's Office also requested to be on the same policy as regular county vehicles that get replaced after 100,000, but that request was denied.

Stoll contacted each of the county commissioners by email, detailing the issues addressed in the story, but none of them emailed her back.

Marion County Sheriff's Office Facebook Page