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Supervisors bar sheriff from repairing police cars

by Larry S. Chowning

The Middlesex County Board of Supervisors approved a policy on September 15 that will prohibit Middlesex Sheriff Guy Abbott or volunteers from performing repair work on police vehicles owned by the county.

“I just don’t feel he should be working on cars,” said board chairman Robert Crump. “Maybe this way he will spend more time doing the business of being our sheriff.”

The issue surfaced recently when the sheriff’s office reported that Sheriff Abbott had saved the county several thousand dollars by repairing and painting a police car himself, instead of sending it to a body shop.

This created a concern among some supervisors that Abbott might not be spending his time in the most productive way as county sheriff.

The policy adopted by the supervisors states:

  • All collision repairs to county-owned vehicles are to be made at local certified body shops after receiving at least three estimates for the repairs.
  • All county-owned vehicles shall be repaired at ASE certified local repair shops or at authorized factory dealer repair shops.
  • County maintenance staff is authorized to make repairs as necessary to county vehicles with approval of the county administrator.
  • All vehicles’ electronic and communications equipment shall be maintained and repaired by county-approved factory authorized service technicians.
  • No payment for work performed or repairs made by anyone other than stated in this policy shall be made without prior approval by the board of supervisors.

Abbott had been at the board meeting, but was not present when the new policy was adopted.

On Tuesday of this week, Abbott said, “All we (Abbott and volunteers) are doing are small jobs. I’m not taking any major work from the body shops. I don’t have time to do that kind of work.

“If we’ve got to go to Richmond or wherever to have some of these small jobs done, it’s going to cost the county more money,” continued Abbott. “It’s also going to cost mileage and gas to go there.

“I thought we were in a budget crunch,” said Abbott. “Every year I go over my budget on maintenance and gas because I’ve got all these old cars. We put 200 to 250 miles a night on a patrol car.

“I was trying to not put so much strain on county taxpayers by doing the work myself and saving money,” Abbott said. “I guess they (supervisors) don’t appreciate it. I didn’t have to do it. I was just trying to save taxpayer money.”

In other business, the board recommended that supervisor Wayne Jessie ask Urbanna Oyster Festival officials why the foundation or the town did not reimburse the $3,600 it cost the county to incarcerate the 40 people who were arrested last year during the festival.

posted 09.23.2009

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