Collaboration with The Wood County Sheriffs Office

Wood County Sheriff’s Office to try out hybrid cruisers on road patrol


BG Independent News


Road patrol vehicles rack up a lot of miles and spend a lot of hours idling at accident scenes. So when Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn ordered new vehicles this year, he decided to try out hybrid cruisers.

The upside is the hybrid Ford Police Interceptors will average 24 miles per gallon, compared to the current 16 miles per gallon for the Ford Explorers. And the hybrids will not idle constantly at crash scenes. 

“It’s just going to run when it needs to charge up the batteries,” Wasylyshyn said Tuesday when he showed off one of the new vehicles to the Wood County Commissioners.

The sheriff’s office currently spends about $16,000 a month in gas, the sheriff said.

“We’re talking serious money over time” that can be saved, he said.

The downside is each hybrid cruiser costs $36,232, which is about $3,600 more than the regular gas-powered Explorers. 

However, the savings in gas expenses would quickly pay off the difference. Depending on the cost of fuel, the hybrid vehicles should pay off the higher price tag within two years.

“For us, it’s not going to take us long to save,” Wasylyshyn said.

The new hybrid vehicles were ordered in March, but weren’t delivered until last month. None are out on the road yet – but they soon will be once the Wood County Highway Garage staff has added more lighting to the vehicles to increase visibility.

Wasylyshyn predicted the sheriff’s office will continue to purchase hybrid cruisers to replace those aging out in the fleet of 50 to 60 vehicles. The average road patrol cruiser racks up 100,000 miles in three years.

The question remains, however, of how the hybrids will function over time and many miles. The sheriff’s office normally gets 160,000 to 170,000 miles out of vehicles before they are replaced, Wasylyshyn said.

Ford has given the sheriff’s office a 100,000-mile, five-year warranty on the hybrids.

“Time will tell,” the sheriff said.

Wood County Sheriff Mark Wasylyshyn shows new hybrid cruiser to the county commissioners.

Wood County Administrator Andrew Kalmar said the county will consider hybrid vehicles to replace cars in the county’s fleet.

“We sure would,” he said.

Bowling Green Police Division currently has six hybrid cruisers. And any new cruisers bought next year will be hybrid as well, said Lt Adam Skaff. 

“The city and police division like the idea of reducing the impact on the environment,” Skaff said.

Sheriff’s Lt. Greg Panning said there will be a little bit of a learning curve for the road deputies as they adapt to the hybrid cruisers.

Wasylyshyn never thought much about using hybrid vehicles for road patrols until earlier this year. 

“I always thought of hybrids for in-town driving,” Wasylyshyn told the county commissioners back in February.

But the sheriff’s perspective on hybrids changed when Commissioner Craig LaHote asked about the vehicles, when Lt. Rod Konrad researched the cost savings, and when the county garage staff recommended the change.

Wasylyshyn also learned that across the nation, law enforcement agencies are increasingly adding hybrids to their fleets. Two years ago, about 5% of new police vehicles purchased were hybrids. Last year, that number climbed to 30%, he said.

The vehicles do not have to be plugged in, but are charged off their engines.

While at the county highway garage on Tuesday morning, the sheriff also explained that since switching over to the garage for vehicle maintenance three years ago, his office has saved “tens of thousands” of dollars.

He praised Chris Heinze, of the highway garage, for his work keeping the road patrol fleet in good shape.