San Patricio Co. Sheriff Oscar Rivera has worked for the county for more than 40 years.
As the county's top law man, he's been looking at ways to make his department run more efficiently. Part of that plan is not wasting taxpayer dollars, and looking for ways to save money and one way is for Rivera and his department to save that money by doing the work themselves.
"When we get (patrol units) they are just plain," he said. "We put the back cages in, and get them ready with our antennas and light bars. We get them all decal-ed so they are ready to go."
By doing the work themselves, they can eventually save enough to buy an entirely new patrol unit.
"It's about $3,000 to $4,000 a car to outfit, if you send it out to get done commercially," Rivera said. "If you factor -- we buy about 10 to 12 cars every year -- you can easily save $40,000."
He, along with his deputies' help, are outfitting 12 patrol vehicles this year, saving taxpayers and his department thousands of dollars.
"They're all employees here, they're not doing anything different," Rivera said. "Instead of being out in the patrol that, we have an extra guy we'll bring him in here. Some of these guys love to do this kind of stuff and we'll get it done."
When a unit racks up high mileage, it's taken out of commission and stripped down of all its technology, which is then installed in a new patrol unit.
With close to $350,000 spent on vehicles every year, any savings can help.
"That's about $35,000 a car," said Rivera. "So if you can save enough to buy a car, we'll do that. Instead of having 10, we'll have 11."
It's also cost-effective to stick with the same model vehicles, so the equipment matches and the swap-over is seamless.
It's something Rivera's team doesn't mind doing.
"It's a nice change of pace from having to run from call to call and dealing with the general public and complaints," said San Patricio Co. Deputy Mario Lasoya. "It's a change from the normal."