It happens often enough: Cortland County Sheriff Mark Helms gets a call from people who said that one of his officers showed up to their house or responded to an incident. However, it’s not always a sheriff’s officer.
“I’d look into it and it was the state police,” Helms said.
Now Helms is trying to alleviate the mix ups by changing the decal on the sheriff’s vehicles so it stands out more.
“It just seemed like the right time,” Helms said. “I’ve had people comment to me that they’d like to see it changed up.”
The new decals feature the word “Sheriff” in large bold white letters outlined by red. The sheriff’s badge is also featured and “Cortland County” is in bold red letters. That’s rather than shades of yellow incorporating “sheriff” and “Cortland County” in the same design.
Helms said he really likes the red and white against the black of the cars because it makes the word “sheriff” stand out so people will notice it’s them now and not the state police.
“To have it as distinct as possible was what I was looking for,” Helms said.
Helms asked officers for ideas for the design.
“Everyone wanted something with red in the scheme,” he said.
And it turned out doing a solid red and white design instead of the shades of yellow is cheaper. Helms said the new decals are about $50 cheaper per vehicle than the old decals, although he would not disclose the specific cost. The decals are being done by O’Graphic Design of Marathon.
“I like to do as much locally as I can,” Helms said.
“I like it,” Officer Greg Gallow said. “I had spoken to Helms before about how people mix us up with state police and now I hope this differentiates us.”
Helms said it will be a while before all of the decals are changed. Helms said he is waiting for new vehicles to that would replace ones with high mileage. Those cars were expected to arrive in March but now may not arrive until the fall. Once those cars are in and have decals Helms said he will see how much replacing the decals on the older vehicles would be. Helms said the decals are budgeted for each year.
Two of the department’s vehicles have the new decal — a patrol vehicle and a new pickup truck that was purchased to haul the snowmobile, boat and a new red Stop DWI trailer to carry equipment.
“We haven’t had a marked pickup in several years,” Helms said.
The pickup cost about $41,000, of which 75% was paid for by the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.