Lucas County has a vehicle policy. It was revised in 2004 after former Treasurer Ray Kest was cited with a DUI. It pretty much limits the use of county-owned vehicles to employees and official business.
It's a good policy, as it is based upon the Ohio Revised Code, and does allow for exceptions - for such things as law enforcement and emergency management purposes.
It also requires that elected officials who want exceptions under the policy request them of the Commissioners. This provision is to accommodate for the fact that other county office holders are not accountable to the Commissioners, but the county-owned vehicles are titled under the Board of Commissioners and we're responsible for providing insurance and liability for them.
On December 1, 2004, Sheriff James Telb wrote a letter to the BCC requesting exemptions under the policy for certain vehicles. He wrote: "Further, the Elexibil bus is utilized at various times for special assignments and for official business of the Lucas County Sheriff. It may be used to transport individuals not employees of Lucas County." His exemption request was granted.
Thursday, June 1st, this county-owned bus was used for Mayor Carty Finkbeiner's public relations tour of his proposed bike path in the South end of Toledo. I've also been told that this is the bus used by the Mayor for his regularly-scheduled neighborhood tours with his staff.
According to the prosecutor's office, the Sheriff has the flexibility under the law to determine the definition of "official business." While the Sheriff does have jurisdiction throughout all of Lucas County, he and his deputies are not the primary responder to crime inside the city limits.
Now, I'm sure that someone could stretch the definition of "official business of the Lucas County Sheriff" to include regularly-scheduled neighborhood tours through Toledo - you could argue that you were looking for illegal activities, drug houses, graffiti and gang activity, etc... You could.
But, there is no way to twist the definition of "official business of the Lucas County Sheriff" to include a tour of a bike path with the mayor of any city. And since the operations of the bus are paid for by the County, I'm sure that the Mayor appreciates us picking up his tab.