With the dwindling economy, high gas prices and county officials being asked to cut back their budgets, new uniforms for sheriff's officers would typically be out of the question - if the sheriff had not seized more than $100,000 in drug money in the last year.
Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle said his office confiscated over $100,000 in 2007 from drug dealers in the county.
"Anytime we arrest someone on drug charges and they have cash on them, we seize that money, and we seize their vehicles, too," Carlisle said.
The sheriff's office is currently in the process of seizing an automobile and a home of a confessed methamphetamine dealer who was arrested last week. If the seizure goes as planned, the property would be sold and funds invested back into the sheriff's war on drugs campaign.
"Actually, that's the only thing we can do with the money we confiscate," Carlisle said. "It has to go back into helping the officers do their jobs and fight the war on drugs."
In the past, the sheriff's office has purchased training and dive team equipment, two vehicles for drug investigators and most recently new uniforms for the officers.
"We spent about $15,000 and outfitted all of our officers with new uniforms," Carlisle said.
The new, updated uniforms are black on black, a sharp contrast to the brown the sheriff's office has displayed for as long as Carlisle can remember.
"We've had the brown uniforms since before I was here," he said. "It was time for a change."
The new uniforms are an extension of Carlisle's goal to progress the department in keeping up with the times.
"With the new law enforcement center opening last year and receiving state certification earlier this year, a sheriff's office has to progress each year," he said.
Carlisle said the new uniforms have also been a great moral booster among the officers, many who had needed new uniforms for months.
Patrol officer Corporal Mich Long, who wore his new uniform for the first time on Monday, said he received several compliments from members of the community as he drove into work.
"The new uniforms are nice. I like them. It gives us a new look," he said. "When I got gas this morning, they were very receptive to it, saying it looked good and looked very nice."
The community should expect to see all officers donning the new uniforms on July 28.
E-mail Michele Hester at firstname.lastname@example.org.