Whether hitting the blacktops and gravel roads in a patrol car or working afoot at a crime scene, the Nodaway County Sheriff's Department has a new look.
Sheriff Darren White said Wednesday that members of the department's command staff, a four-person leadership team consisting of the sheriff, Undersheriff Randy Houston, Chief Deputy David Glidden and Jail Supervisor Samantha Marriott, are now wearing identical uniforms consisting of a white shirt with flapped pockets, black tie and navy blue slacks.
The uniform is identical to the one White has favored for himself over the last several years and contrasts with the outfits of less-senior deputies, who will retain their customary dark blue shirts and tan pants.
White said his command team made the decision to adopt the uniforms so that the public could identify ranking officers at large events or during a crisis.
In addition to the wardrobe change, the department also recently upgraded its patrol car fleet with two new 2012 Dodge Chargers. The vehicles, both painted black, mean that two white Chargers will be downgraded to the next level of service, while two of the the department's oldest vehicles, each with well over 100,000 miles, will be sold.
Chargers became the vehicle of choice for many law enforcement agencies a couple of years ago after Ford Motor Co. discontinued the Crown Victoria, for decades one of the most popular patrol cars in the United States. The county's Dodges are all equipped with the much-advertised "Hemi" V-8.
Both vehicles were purchased under a state contract, which means the county was not required to go through a bid process. White said he was able to buy the cars at a discounted price from a dealer near the end of his police-car inventory.
Purchased for around $22,700 each, the cars saved the county a total of about $1,000 compared to two similar vehicles acquired last year. Full manufacturer's retail, White said would be over $30,000.
The Sheriff's Department maintains a fleet of 10 vehicles, two of which are four-wheel-drive SUVs dating to 2007.
White said a number of departments across the state have been moving away from sedans and toward trucks, but that he's decided such vehicles aren't always a good fit for Nodaway County.
For one thing, the sedans, have far better gas mileage, getting up to 27 miles to the gallon on the highway compared to 10 or 12 for the typical police-grade SUV. Tires are cheaper as well.
Then there is the safety factor. Tests show that sedans are more stable and less likely to roll over.
White said his department goes through more vehicles faster than some departments in the state due to the county's large size. Geographically, Nodaway is the fifth-largest county in Missouri and has approximately 1,000 miles of gravel roads in addition to state highways and lettered blacktops.
Page 2 of 2 - The 10-vehicle fleet serves a uniformed staff of 11 officers, including White. The department also employs approximately 15 civilians who perform various non-law enforcement duties at the Nodaway County jail.