Sometimes law enforcement officers need to do their jobs in places that a standard police car cannot go.
Thanks to a partnership with Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation, the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office has an extra vehicle for some difficult and even life-or-death situations. The department recently took delivery of a brand-new custom Yamaha Wolverine ® X4 1000 side-by-side off-road vehicle, a most unique addition to its fleet that can help officers who need to get off the beaten track.
“This gives us a tool to get out into the woods quicker than a dog or a human,” said Toby Nix, public information officer for the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office. “That’s an immediate benefit for those calls.”
To what calls would he be referring?
First of all, there can be a handful of missing persons cases which are active at any given time. Occasionally the department gets a call about an elderly dementia patient who has simply walked away from home or a care facility without any warning, and that person can easily end up lost in the woods. The same goes for a missing child. In an area like Coweta County – with a population of just over 150,000 but still with some rural aspects to it – there are plenty of places that cannot be reached by a squad car and would take hours to navigate on foot.
Another crucial time to have this vehicle in operation would be during a severe weather event or its aftermath. As Nix pointed out, officers can be out for hours on foot after a tornado going door to door through damaged areas checking on residents and looking for survivors.
“And then in the weeks that follow with us going in and clearing out neighborhoods, a lot of the roads are blocked for a long time,” he said. “So it’s great to have something like that not only on the night of or in the hot moments, but in the recovery efforts as well.”
According to Nix, Bob Brown of YMMC approached the sheriff’s office expressing his company’s desire to strengthen its relationship with the community through several initiatives, such as the department’s annual bike build event in which officers assemble new bicycles for children who otherwise would not have one.
“I feel like their whole company stance is to be good stewards for your community,” Nix said about Yamaha, one of the largest private employers in Coweta County.
As for the four-seat vehicle itself, “they personalized it for us and it gave it decals and all that stuff to look like a patrol vehicle just for aesthetics,” said Nix. “Because it looks really cool.”
But it’s the actual performance of the vehicle that is most important, especially when the search is on for someone and time is of the essence.
“It works for both a search-and-rescue and a manhunt-type situation,” said Brown, Yamaha’s vice president of finance and operational support. “You can maneuver through many places where you couldn’t if you were in another kind of vehicle, like a four-wheel drive, SUV or pickup. It’s much, much more agile, maneuverable and narrower.”
In addition to getting the Wolverine at a government discount, the sheriff’s office was the beneficiary of a number of optional extras that were donated by Yamaha. The company covered the cost of custom white body panels to match the department’s patrol cars, as well as specialized graphics, a light bar with strobes and siren, and several Yamaha accessories like a folding windshield, front and rear brush guards, a cargo box and a winch. These features are worth several thousand dollars to the typical customer, and Yamaha provided them at no additional cost.
According to Brown, it was important to forge a relationship with the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office since the Yamaha facility is in its jurisdiction.
“It just came from a mutual desire to partner together,” Brown said of the company providing the Wolverine. “They support us from a law enforcement perspective. Fifty-five percent of our over 2,000 employees live in Coweta County, so we have a lot in common.”
Going forward, it will be a key tool for a department whose primary charge is to protect and care for the most vulnerable in the community.
“We have a helicopter that takes a certain amount of time to get in the air. We have drones that take a certain amount of time. We have canines,” said Nix. “But if you can add another tool to your toolbox that might save one life, you’ve got to do it. We owe it to the community.”
Yamaha Motor Manufacturing Corporation of America designs and assembles WaveRunners, ATVs, Side by Sides, and Golf Cars at the Newnan plant. One of Coweta County’s largest private employers, Yamaha is currently expanding the team, hiring for both contract and professional team members. Full-time direct hires, such as welders and engineers enjoy a comprehensive benefits package, including insurance, 401k, profit sharing, and more. Details are at yamahajobs.com.