Local governments reconsider take-home police cars
When a late-night gas explosion damaged more than 80 homes in an Indianapolis neighborhood last month, many off-duty Indianapolis police officers rushed to the scene to help."A lot of those officers came and got there so quickly," says Bill Owensby, president of the local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, "because they had take-home cars."Owensby says "operational readiness" is one of many benefits of police officers having vehicles they can take home. But early next year, many of those Indianapolis officers will begin paying a fee for those cars.
Take-home police cars may be nearing end of the road
Darrel Stephens, executive director of Major Cities Chiefs Association, which represents leaders of the 63 largest law enforcement agencies in the United States, says many larger departments have in recent years examined or adopted cost-sharing policies or other restrictions on take-home cars."Departments, because of fiscal constraints, are being asked to curtail the use of take-home vehicles, or are taking them away from some officers or charging fees and setting limits on off-duty use," said James Pasco, director of the National Fraternal Order of Police, the USA's largest police labor organization.Pasco says he understands the motivation behind such debates but thinks a narrow focus on dollars-and-cents doesn't account for valuable intangibles of take-home vehicles, such as the ability of officers to quickly respond to incidents, even when they're off duty, and the crime-deterring effect of having more vehicles visible in a community."This is not a privilege," Pasco says. "It really is about maximizing response times and the ability of officers to be where they need to be."In some places, such as North Miami Beach, Fla., the discussion already has resulted in ending the take-home policy for most of the department's roughly 100 police officers, city spokesman Mark Perkins says.He says officers still are assigned cars but leave them at the station at the end of their shifts.Other cities, including Indianapolis, are taking a less drastic approach: allowing officers to continue taking home their police cars but charging fees to cover gasoline and maintenance associated with personal use.In Louisville, new officers must work for three years, instead of only one, to get a take-home vehicle, according to Chief Steve Conrad. That is a provision of a new policy that took effect in November that also assesses officers with take-home cars a gasoline fee if their vehicles are used for a second job.
Local Governments Reconsider Take-Home Police Cars
This is a topic that comes up from time to time. While there might be a short term savings in some places. I think some studies have shown that assigned vehicle are better maintained and cost less in the long run. It is pretty easy to get some political mileage out of it, however. A politician can tell the voters:
-Charge For Take Home Cars
-Eliminate Defined Benefit Pensions
-Make Cops Have An Unpaid Lunch Break
-Pay More For Their Health Insurance