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La Salle County commissioners agreed Monday, February 13, to allow Sheriff Anthony Zertuche to seek bids for and purchase at least five new patrol vehicles with funds directed for border security through the Operation Lone Star grant.
Founded by Texas Governor Greg Abbott in the wake of a surge in illegal immigration into Texas from Mexico and related criminal activity, funds allocated to border-area counties are intended to assist with equipping law enforcement officers with gear for the added duties, providing vehicles and protective equipment, and in some cases supporting salaries for additional manpower.
Sheriff Zertuche said this week that approximately half a million dollars has been allocated to La Salle County through Operation Lone Star during the past year and that his officers are “much in need of new patrol vehicles.”
The La Salle County sheriff’s fleet of patrol vehicles is aging, and many of the deputies’ sport utility vehicles are used 24 hours a day.
The oldest vehicles in the sheriff’s fleet date from 2015.
“We are having to double-up on our vehicles,” Zertuche said this week. “We have a total of thirty deputies and senior officers, and a lot of them are sharing vehicles. A Chevrolet Tahoe could be driven day and night.
“This shortage severely limits our capabilities,” the sheriff said.
Zertuche reported that he expects to buy four Tahoe patrol vehicles that will have four-wheel drive and one full-size pickup truck for administrative use as well as for overtime duty in rural patrol.
“We have officers who continue working after their regular hours in Operation Stonegarden, which calls for additional patrols, often in outlying areas,” the sheriff said. “Stonegarden is a federal grant that supports the overtime pay, but we provide the vehicles.”
The price tag for the new vehicles will exceed $330,000, the sheriff said.
“This is approximately the amount that was set aside for vehicles under the Lone Star grant,” Zertuche said.