Final approval has been given for one of the largest investments ever into new patrol cars for the Bartholomew County Sheriff’s Department.

Bartholomew County commissioners have approved purchasing eight new vehicles, three fewer than had been budgeted, at a cost of $201,404.

Seven will replace models that have more than 150,000 miles, while one will be assigned to a newly hired deputy, sheriff’s Capt. Brandon Slate told the commissioners.

The vehicles being purchased are:

  • Two Dodge Chargers, to be ordered, at $24,175 each
  • Four Dodge Chargers, in stock, at $24,069 each
  • Two Dodge Durangos, to be ordered, at $28,389 each

The prices don’t include police equipment such as light bars, cages, radios, computers and mounts that might add as much as an additional $8,000 in costs, sheriff’s Maj. Chris Lane said.

Monday’s action came seven months after similar approval was given to purchase seven new cars or trucks for the department at a cost of about $180,000.

The only dealer who submitted bids both times was the John Jones Auto Group of Salem.

For decades, automotive dealers who have obtained a negotiated contract with the state have been provided bulk purchasing power to submit low bids to city, county and state law enforcement agencies.

The nearest dealer able to supply the department’s needs who has such a contract is Fletcher Chrysler in Franklin, Slate said.

In contrast, the John Jones Auto Group has successfully negotiated that type of buying power with multiple states, which allows the dealership to sell more law enforcement vehicles, Slate said.

That allows the Salem firm to bid each vehicle for about $250 less than dealers holding contracts with just one state, he said.

Asked why the sheriff’s department doesn’t use a variety of models to make bidding more competitive, commissioner Rick Flohr said one reason is to reduce the number of automotive parts that must be kept in stock for repairs.

In addition, most law enforcement officials in Indiana have a preference for the Dodge Chargers over other new vehicles, commissioner Carl Lienhoop said.

For nearly 20 years, the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor was considered the most popular patrol car in the state, according to the Indiana Department of Administration.

But three years after Ford announced it would stop accepting orders for those types of Crown Victorias, the Dodge Charger Pursuit all-wheel-drive models became available to law enforcement customers in the spring of 2014, according to the IDA.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.