By Tony Lopez

PLACER COUNTY (CBS13) — The Placer County Sheriff’s Department has a new fleet of all-terrain vehicles, begging the questions why do they need them and who’s paying for them?

Tony Lopez is getting answers.

Deputies call them off-highway vehicles, the department just got two of them.

Sgt. Ty Conner says the main purpose is patrolling and preserving hundreds of miles of hard-to-access trails in the county—something they can’t do with regular SUVs.

“One thing they’re having is people are abusing that, going off trail, which again, is damaging the environment, damaging the areas that aren’t set for recreation vehicles,” he said.

Deputies will also be on the lookout for other off-highway vehicles, such as ATVs and dirt bikes, that could start fires. They’ll also be looking to bust drunken drivers.

“If we do make an arrest, the arrestee will ride in the front and then our officer will ride in the back,” he said.

Law enforcement who are trained to drive and ride in these vehicles will work their shifts as overtime, mainly on the weekends.

With cash-strapped departments up and down the state, how can Placer County afford it?

“We applied for the California State Parks OHV grant last year,” Conners said.

And they got it—nearly $100,000 that will pay for the vehicles and the staffing for about a year, as long as they’re used to patrol state and federal trails.

When the grant money runs out, the county can reapply to keep things rolling.

“There’s other agencies throughout the state of California that have almost full-time positions funded by that state grant because they’ve been so successful,” her said.

Until that’s decided, those fancy new Placer County Sheriff’s vehicles will go where most of us can’t see them, hoping to emerge with more funding to keep their engines going.


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