A small law enforcement fleet in North Carolina converting gas-guzzling vehicles to run on propane autogas isn't exactly national news, but what we have here is also a candidate for the classic "News of the Weird" column. Why? Because sheriff Phillip Redmond of Iredell County, NC has converted 13 Ford Crown using matching grants from the North Carolina Solar Center's Clean Fuel Advanced Technologies and the NC Department of Transportation's Congestion Mitigation Air Quality program. How did the local sheriff's department raise their part of the matching funds? By confiscating illegal drug money.

In a statement, Redmond said, "We put dirty money to good use by repurposing seized assets from our drug interdiction program to match grant funding for the autogas conversions." We don't know the legality of taking drug money like this, but if you're going to use the funds for anything, making cleaner cars seems like a good thing to do. According to Alliance AutoGas, which provided the conversions (fleet mechanics helped) and fueling infrastructure, the propane-powered cruisers will emit less CO2, cost about 40 percent less to refuel and have cheaper maintenance costs. From the sound of it, the sheriff's fleet of autogas vehicles will expand to 50 soon.

Alliance AutoGas is a member of Autogas for America, an umbrella organization that is promoting autogas across the nation.
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News: Sheriff uses confiscated funds to launch alternative fuel program

Sheriff Phillip Redmond of Iredell County, N.C., is cleaning up the community in an unconventional way. His office recently converted 13 Ford Crown Victoria cruisers to run on clean-burning, domestically produced propane autogas thanks in part to illegal activity-confiscated drug money.

"We put dirty money to good use by repurposing seized assets from our drug interdiction program to match grant funding for the autogas conversions," says Sheriff Redmond, who has been instrumental in reducing illegal drug trafficking in Iredell County during his 17-year tenure.

Nationwide network Alliance AutoGas provided the conversions and autogas fueling infrastructure. Captain Mike Phillips estimates the autogas conversions will save the county about 40 percent in fuel costs, in addition to reduced maintenance expenses.

"I know more law enforcement fleets like ours will be shifting to autogas in the future as they discover what a smart choice it is," says Phillips. "It's not often you don't sacrifice power and range with an alternative fuel; and with autogas, you get the benefit of driving green in a high-performance vehicle."

Phillips says the Sheriff's Office is so pleased with the autogas vehicle performance, they are converting 13 additional vehicles this fall and hope to eventually run 50 fleet vehicles on autogas.

Visit www.allianceautogas.com for more information.

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