Medora council purchasing police car with ARP funding


MEDORA — Officials in this small southwestern Jackson County town hope to beef up police patrols by purchasing a third patrol vehicle for its police force, which has just one paid officer and five reserves.

During a recent town council meeting, Town Marshal Jeff Walters, who works 24 hours a week, sought and received permission to look into purchasing the new vehicle with American Rescue Plan, aka ARP, funds.

Walters said the department has two vehicles, which means his reserve officers have to double up in a vehicle if they are on duty at the same time.

Councilman Darin Downs, who recently was appointed to the council by county Republican Chairwoman Amanda Lowery after the resignation of Jerry Ault, asked Walters why officers were being doubled up in a patrol vehicle.

“No. 1 was the training. With everybody starting out, that was a plus,” Walters said. “No. 2, we only have the one reserve vehicle.”

He said the department has always had three vehicles in the past but got rid of one a couple of years ago mainly because it was older and often needed expensive repairs.

“We need a backup because back in the winter, we lost the reserve vehicle for five weeks,” Walters said. “It broke down.”

The town’s newest police vehicle, driven by Walters, is a 2020 Dodge SUV, while the reserve vehicle is a 2014 Dodge SUV.

Downs, a former officer with the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, said he is not a big fan of officers doubling up in a vehicle because it is a waste of manpower. He said two officers in two cars would give the town more coverage.

Walters said he would do his due diligence to find the best police vehicle at the lowest cost. He estimated it would cost about $38,000.

Downs said he would be surprised if the town could purchase a new police car for less than $45,000 after it is outfitted with lights and other needed equipment.

Walters said that’s probably correct and there would be additional costs, but he did not know all of those costs at this time.

Downs said if a third vehicle is going to be used at least three or four days a week by reserve officers, it would be worth purchasing.

Walters said reserve officers are asked to work a minimum of eight hours a week, and despite a lot of sickness in August, reserve officers worked 113 hours. They generally work more hours each month.

“I’m all for it if it is going to be used,” Downs said.

Downs said his main goal is seeing more police coverage for the town.

Walters said the reserves are providing coverage late into the evening and early morning hours as much as possible.

“I will say since I moved back to town three or four months ago that I have seen a major difference in the foot traffic,” Downs said. “Now, I’m not out at 3 or 4 in the morning. After midnight, nothing good happens.”

Downs said it would be silly not to use the ARP funding instead of letting it go unused. Councilwoman Rhonda Freeman and Councilman Jim Davers both said they supported the idea of using the ARP money instead of not doing anything with the funds.

The council approved the purchase after Davers approved Freeman’s motion to pursue the purchase of a new police vehicle.

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