The Board of Supervisors Tuesday signed off on Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco’s request to add three dozen vehicles to the agency’s fleet at a cost of $2.09 million.

Bianco submitted documents to the board stating the 36 vehicles would all be dedicated to the sheriff’s Court Services Division, for use by bailiffs, warrant service deputies and personnel involved in transportation.

No General Fund revenue will be required for the procurement, which will be paid using a sub account into which writ service fees are deposited, according to sheriff’s officials.

Riverside-based Fritts Ford and Colfax-based Winner Chevrolet were awarded the contracts to supply the vehicles, comprised of 30 black-and-whites, five “stealth units” and one unmarked car.

Bianco noted that as the new vehicles arrive, existing Court Services Division cars will be rotated into the patrol fleet, saving money by deferring near-term acquisitions that would otherwise be needed to replace high-mileage patrol cars. Officials said the Court Services Division vehicles being replaced generally have less than 65,000 miles on them.

In March, the sheriff received board approval to acquire 84 vehicles for the patrol fleet, at a cost of $3.66 million, most of it borrowed money.

When the supervisors inquired as to why so many vehicles were needed at once, Bianco explained that the department, under his predecessor Stan Sniff, acquired 324 Ford Crown Victorias in 2010 for patrol, but several hundred ended up parked in a county storage yard, exposed to the elements and plagued by “rat infestations,” rendering them unusable.

He did not elaborate on why they weren’t put into service.

The current vehicle replacement rate is close to 300 per year, the sheriff told the board, and the present usable fleet numbers roughly 1,800. He said 2,000 is the target figure.

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