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Deputies may get private use of cruisers Sheriff: Bill would allow vehicles to be driven only in limited circumstances

SALISBURY — Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten said legislation that would allow deputies to use patrol cruisers for private use would boost school safety.
Auten said the bill filed this week in Raleigh would allow deputies to drop off and pick up their children from school. As it stands, officers have to use private vehicles, he said.
“What I wanted to do was allow officers when they’re coming to work to drop their kids off at schools. That’ll put them on campuses at schools,” Auten said. “Maybe in the mornings, maybe in the evenings. We ain’t talking about using them to go to the beach or grocery shopping and all that kind of stuff.”
Auten left his comments in a voice mail message Thursday evening in response to a Post reporter’s telephone call. He could not be reached for more details Friday.
N.C. Rep. Harry Warren and Carl Ford introduced the bill on Feb. 18.
If enacted, it would give Auten the authority to use the department’s vehicles as he saw fit.
But, the bill said, the uses would have to be submitted in writing to Rowan County commissioners, who could override the sheriff’s decision with a simple majority vote.
Warren and Ford said Auten could also use the authority to place unmanned patrol cars on campuses across the county.
The purpose, they said, would be to display a law enforcement presence at school facilities.
“That was the motivation behind the bill,” Warren said. “A very non-costly, non-expensive response to school security.”
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.

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