County grants sheriff purchase of van to transport prisoners

By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer

Curry County Sheriff Roger Hatcher is eyeing a new van for transporting prisoners.

The van would be purchased in part with about $10,500 from drug assets seized during a joint-drug operation in November that included the sheriff’s office and the Drug Enforcement Agency. Another $17,000 in funds previously allocated by the county for the purchase of vehicles also would be used.

The van carries a price tag of approximately $39,000, once extra features are included. Among them are air conditioning, a radio, a diesel engine and a seat to isolate one prisoner from the rest of the prisoners in the van, Hatcher said. The vehicle could transport 10 prisoners, two more than the current van, Hatcher said. Safety is also an issue, he said.

“There is nothing (in the Teen Court van) that separates prisoners from officers,” Hatcher said.

Officers also transport prisoners in patrol cars “wherever they need to go,” said Hatcher, including to other detention centers in the state.

The bulk of patrol cars owned by the sheriff’s office are old and have accumulated hundreds of thousands of miles, county officials said.

County Commissioners granted Hatcher permission to purchase the van Tuesday at a Curry County Commission meeting.

Also at Tuesday’s meeting:
• A joint powers agreement between Grady and Curry County was renewed. The agreement allows officers from Curry to serve Grady and funds their service through the Grady Law Enforcement Protection Fund, Hatcher said.

• Commissioners named April Child Abuse Prevention Month in the county. The month was also named Alcohol Awareness Month.

• Approval to purchase flu vaccine for county employees was granted. County administrators ordered 100 shots of the vaccine at $12.25 per shot, according to county documents.

• Adjustments in the county budget were made to reflect reimbursements for previous road repairs and state funds allocated to fire departments in Broadview, Field and Pleasant Hill for fighting grass fires, Mark Lansford of the county finance department said.

• A groundbreaking ceremony for the Special Events Center at the Curry County Fairgrounds is slated for April 29.

• Road Superintendent Danny Davis announced the road department will lay caliche on County Road 6. The road improvement is a joint operation between the county and Arrowhead Diary, which is slated to operate along that road. Arrowhead agreed to purchase the caliche and cover cost of transporting the material, while the county will provide equipment and labor for the project, Davis said.