Twelve Rock County Sheriff’s Office officials have the benefit of a car they drive to and from work.
A candidate for sheriff said he would reduce that number.
The sheriff, chief deputy, two commanders, three captains and two sergeants all have take-home vehicles.
The three deputies who have police dogs also get to take their vehicles home.
Sheriff candidate Gary Groelle said he would reduce the number of take-home cars by at least half.
Troy Knudson, who faces Groelle in Tuesday’s Democratic primary, said he “generally” supports the number of take-home vehicles, although he thinks it’s a good idea to re-evaluate their use to make sure they are necessary.
The candidates discussed their approaches to the issue in emails as responses to a Gazette request.
Take-home vehicles are supposed to improve response times to emergencies by key personnel.
A general order approved by Sheriff Robert Spoden in 2010 states that those with take-home cars can use them for minor errands—including transporting family members—while driving between home and work.
The vehicles can greatly improve response times in emergencies, and the expense is not as high as people might think, Knudson said.
“They are often low-use vehicles that are recycled into or out of the fleet for the remainder of their service,” Knudson wrote. “As a result, taking away one take-home vehicle does not save the full cost of a squad per year but more likely about one-fifteenth of the cost of a squad car.
“If that savings then is $3,000 per year (including fuel), that is significant; however, if the SWAT commander is late getting to a scene, and a poor decision is made by a less experienced leader, the potential liability could be much higher,” Knudson wrote.
Knudson said that as sheriff, he would favor periodic reviews of the practice “to ensure that we continue to use this equipment in the best possible manner.”
Groelle said the number of take-home cars is “an unnecessary tax burden.”
Current and past sheriff’s office employees have raised concerns and displeasure at the use of take-home cars, Groelle said, as have other county residents he has met while campaigning.
Groelle said he would strictly limit the cars’ use to sheriff’s office business.
According to a list obtained by The Gazette, Spoden takes home a 2018 Dodge Charger.
The chief deputy has a 2017 Chevrolet Impala, and the two commanders, including Knudson, have either a 2017 or 2016 Charger.
Capt. Jude Maurer, the Republican candidate for sheriff, runs the patrol bureau and takes home a 2015 Charger.
Three SWAT leaders have a 2012 Chevrolet Tahoe, 2013 Charger or a 2016 Ford Explorer.
The emergency management director has a 2017 Explorer.