Barbour County Commission and Sheriff Spar Over Cutting Fuel Costs

June 18th, 2008

CLAYTON, Ala. (WXTX) - As one of the largest counties in Alabama, Barbour County provides a lot of ground for sheriff's deputies to cover each day during their patrols.

"On any given day, we have two deputies working a shift, driving around county maybe 400 miles," said Barbour County Deputy Paul Motzenbecker.

With that amount of driving on $4.00 a gallon gas, their fuel costs continue to skyrocket.

Now, the county commission and the sheriff are up against each other, trying to find a balance between cutting costs and fighting crime.

"We're trying to cut back as much as we can, and cut down on fuel costs in order to serve the county, but we need to have fuel to answer calls, serve civil papers...everything we do is based out of the patrol car," said Barbour County Sheriff Leroy Upshaw.

Right now, all sheriff's deputies who live within Barbour County limits are allowed to drive their patrol cars to and from work.

Now, the sheriff says the county commission wants the practice to end, saying the cars should be parked at the jail to save on gas.

"It would cripple us...we wouldn't be able to answer calls as quickly, and we wouldn't have deputies all over the county.  It's one of the largest counties in state.  It would greatly diminish our capacity to fight crime," said Sheriff Upshaw.

Not to mention the county's ability to retain experienced deputies...

"Everybody would quit," said Deputy Motzenbecker.

Barbour County Commission Chairman Earl Gilmore says the issue for them isn't the deputies who live in the's those who drive to work from out of the county.

The sheriff insists that in those instances, deputies drive their own cars to work and pay for their own gas.