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Commission orders decals on coroner cars

Jan 4, 2013 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

Fremont County Coroner Ed McAuslan says he won't permit it.

Although official decals are ready, Fremont County Coroner Ed McAuslan and commissioners continue to butt heads over placing the graphics on two county coroner vehicles.

Commissioners at their Dec. 18 meeting reaffirmed their position that all county vehicles must bear an identifying decal, with an exception for undercover law enforcement.

The commission directed county vehicle maintenance supervisor Glen Steers to put decals on all unmarked, non-exempt vehicles.

The commission has been at odds with the coroner over two, unmarked SUVs the coroner operates. Another coroner vehicle has county markings on it.

McAuslan has refused accede to the commission's wishes.

Later in the day on Dec. 18, Steers wrote an e-mail to McAuslan saying the commission had directed him to place decals on the two coroner vehicles.

"The graphics are being made right now and should be done within a week at most," wrote Steers. "We will call you to set up some mutually convenient times to get them installed at the county shops."

Coroner holds firm

Later that day, McAuslan wrote saying, "My position has not changed on the graphics for my vehicles and suggest that no expense be incurred at this time."

In an interview, McAuslan stated his position plainly: "I'm not putting decals on my cars."

McAuslan has said markings on his vehicles will attract attention from passersby who could inhibit his work, and argues that as an elected official he should make the decision on the decals for his department.

The decals were ordered Dec. 18. They are finished and now are ready to be placed, said vehicle maintenance department administrative assistant Pennie Buffington.

Steers said his department will place the graphics when the two coroner's SUVs are next serviced, or Steers will try again to arrange a time to affix them.

Steers added that the decals are adhesive and will not be removed until the county sells the vehicles.

The parties previously had discussed a compromise involving magnetic, removable insignia.

Steers said he is not taking a side in the matter and that he is just doing his job.

"I work for the Fremont County Commission," he said. "They're my boss. I am going to put (the decals) on and make the arrangements to put them on. (McAuslan's) conversations with the commission do not concern me."

As of Jan. 3, the vehicles had not been marked.

Year-long dispute

The decals dispute started in January 2012. McAuslan was getting flashing emergency lights and sirens for his vehicles, and commissioners said they wanted the SUVs identified so the public knows which agency is responding to a situation.

County Clerk Julie Freese has insisted that the county commission owns the vehicles because the commission administers the capital revolving fund, which paid for their purchase.

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