Sheriff Joe Berlin

Sheriff Joe Berlin (File photo)

Sheriff Joe Berlin doesn’t dodge questions, but he is looking to bring Dodge vehicles to his department.

He is looking to replace the fleet of mostly Ford patrol vehicles he inherited with 20 Dodge Durangos, he told the Jones County Board of Supervisors at Tuesday’s meeting. 

“We have to do something,” Berlin said. “Every car we’ve got has close to 200,000 miles on them.”

Chief Financial Officer Charles Miller said the department's fleet was due to replaced last year, after the vehicles were four years old, but they couldn’t be because of budget restrictions.

“New vehicles can be cheaper than maintaining and repairing old ones,” said Supervisor Larry Dykes, a two-term sheriff. 

Berlin agreed, saying his department had spent about $13,000 on the current vehicles since he took office last month.

The vehicles are being purchased at state-contract prices, so there was no need to get bids. He said he has been shopping around and working to get lower prices to equip the midsize SUVs.

He also plans to keep the older working vehicles for part-time and auxiliary deputies, and for undercover work.

“Thank you for working with us,” board President Johnny Burnett said.

In another matter, Berlin asked the board if he could open a special account for donations that come from the University of Southern Mississippi to the Jones County Juvenile Detention Center.

A $1,250 donation was made by USM, he said, and there are regular donations of $500 that were supposed to be used on DVDs, books and other items for the incarcerated juveniles. The money apparently wasn’t used for its intended purpose, Berlin said.

“It went into the training fund of the previous administration,” he said. “(USM officials) said they don’t want to donate again until there’s a special account.” 

Donors want to be able to direct deposit to the account and monitor how the money is spent in order to continue giving the donations, Berlin told the board.

Burnett and Miller said the department could do that, as long as the funds and spending are accounted for.

Look for more details in the LL-C’s upcoming print and online editions.

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