HICKORY, NC – The Catawba County Sheriff’s Office is going green. Sheriff David Huffman is taking a close look at two models of electric cars for his deputies to use while patrolling at Catawba Valley Community College East and at outdoor venues like the Hickory American Legion Fairgrounds, according to www.hickoryrecord.com.

Chief Executive Officer Coy Reid of the sheriff’s office, along with Coy Hudson and Harold Caldwell of CVCC, have test-driven Global Electric Motorcars (GEMs) to get a feel for the machines. GEMs are made by Chrysler and are in wide use across the nation, especially at colleges and universities.

GEMs are street legal on roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less. Most traditional golf carts will only do 15 mph, but a GEM will go up to 25 mph. The cars take about six to eight hours to charge when they’re plugged into a standard 110-volt electrical outlet. Their batteries are designed to last five years and they produce no emissions.

Huffman hopes he’ll be able purchase a GEM for use at Catawba Valley Community College with a grant through North Carolina State University. The unit will be outfitted with flashing roof lights, a communications radio, and sheriff’s seals for the doors. It should cost about $7,500 as compared to $22,000 for a new cruiser.

It will take some time to apply for the grant, but Huffman hopes to have a GEM within the next few months. Huffman’s goal is to eventually have two of the vehicles, which would save the sheriff’s office $1,700 per month on fuel.