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VOLUSIA COUNTY COUNCIL APPROVES CRITICAL PURCHASES WITHIN SHERIFF’S OFFICE BUDGET
Please see the following statement from Sheriff Mike Chitwood on yesterday’s County Council approval of several Sheriff’s Office budget items, which are summarized below. This message is also posted on Facebook and Twitter.
I want to thank the Volusia County Council for approving the equipment we need to protect our deputies and our communities.
Here’s what was approved this week:
The Sheriff’s Office currently has three armored tactical rescue vehicles, two of which are MRAPs that were provided to us by the federal government in the past for about $1,200 each. Here’s the reality: Those MRAPs can be taken away, which is what happened in 2015 when the Sheriff’s Office had to return surplus military equipment to Washington. We have to be prepared for that to happen again in the future. If we have to return 2 vehicles, without action, we would be down to 1, in a county that’s the size of Rhode Island, and home to 550,000 people and growing.
I know the critics say this is “militarizing the police” or going to war with our community. That’s just not true. Adding a Bearcat doesn’t change anything about our approach to community policing. These vehicles are used to PROTECT deputies and civilians in hostile situations with armed subjects, and to rescue people in all kinds of potentially dangerous conditions. The Sheriff’s Office has even used the Bearcat as an ambulance during a hurricane. When a tornado tears through our community, as it just did a month ago in DeLand, or when wildfires threaten our area, what kind of vehicle do you want ready to respond to your neighborhood?
For me, this was not a political decision. It was a practical one. If we wait and see if a future administration will take back the surplus equipment provided to us, then we’ll be way behind. The Bearcat we just ordered will take months to build and deliver. If we wait until every other agency in America is placing orders to replace recalled equipment, then we’ll be waiting in line for years.
The purchases approved this week are smart, forward-thinking ways to protect the lives of our deputies and the people they serve. We have been making prudent, fiscally conservative decisions for years in order to be able to make these purchases. They’re all within our budget. We’re forecast to come in $6.7 million under budget this year, and about $20 million under budget over the past 4 years. We are putting our money into programs and equipment that will make Volusia County a safer place for everyone.
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