Sheriff vehicle qualifies for buy-back plan

Chad Frey
The Kansan
Harvey County Sheriff's Department

It would appear that when the Harvey County Sheriff's Office purchased several Ford Explorers last year, taking delivery in January, that one of those vehicles was a lemon — and that Ford agrees. 

Ford has agreed to buyback the vehicle, along with the law enforcement package equipment installed in a vehicle that with just 4,000 miles on the odometer has been sitting at a dealership needing repair for about four months. 

"Ford has agreed to purchase back the vehicle," said Shawn Chapman, undersheriff for Harvey County. 

When the county purchased the vehicle, the county agreed to a purchase price $37,408. The county did have a trade-in vehicle, reducing the purchase price to just over $28,900. Law enforcement equipment was added to the vehicle.

"I sent Ford all of the equipment we added to the vehicle plus installation costs and the bid they have committed to us for us to return the vehicle comes to $39,101.64," Chapman said.  "There are two pieces of equipment that I did not put on the list because they were purchased outside of the vehicle. That was our in car camera and our mobile radio. Those are two big ticket items for us."

Those "big ticket items" run about $10,000, and both will be removed before the vehicle is sold back to Ford. 

"Those pieces of equipment ... are specific to us," Chapman said.  

The car starts, and runs, but will go into "limp" mode when deputies try and accelerate — a mode that will not allow the car to exceed more than about 25 miles per hour. Limp mode engages when a vehicle sensor detects a component is  malfunctioning. The idea is  to modify the vehicle's acceleration and shifting capabilities, to allows drivers to navigate vehicles home, or to a service station.

The car has been sitting at a dealership since February. Ford technicians installed new computer modules and have worked on the vehicle. At this point, the only avenue left for the car is to apply for a Ford buy-back program that would essentially refund the purchase price of the vehicle and the Ford law enforcement package. 

The Sheriff's office is now tasked with finding a replacement vehicle — in a market of shortages. According to Chapman, Ford does not have a replacement available, and has expressed there may not be one for some time. 

The department has a purchase agreement for three new vehicles — budgeted in the current budget cycle — that should have already been delivered. Those vehicles, however, have been delayed. 

"They are supposed to be here by now," Chapman said. "That has since been pushed to potentially late August or September and really, they did not have an actual answer for us."

The department is currently down vehicles — one that was wrecked recently and the vehilce that has been in the shop for months. 

That has led to patrol operating the remaining fleet 24 hours a day, jockeying vehicles between deputies. All vehicles are on a five-year replacement plan. 

The department has gone to other sources — finding a Dodge pickup that could be purchased and used for administration as the truck is not pursuit rated. The county commission approved the purchase of that truck, waiving purchasing policies to allow for the department to make the buy this week.