This is the blog for Robert Vincent, Chief of Police for the Gulfport (Florida) Police Department. Please feel free to leave comments, but keep in mind that anything appearing on this page may be subject to retention and disclosure in accordance with Florida public records law.

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Monday, February 21, 2011

Take-Home Police Cars?

The City Council will soon be asked to approve an agreement between the City and the Police Benevolent Association, which is the police officers' union. This agreement has been negotiated for the past few months by the attorneys for both parties, and the result is essentially a carryover of the previous agreement, with one big change: take home police cars.

Subject to final approval, the conditions are expected to be as follows:
  1. We will use the existing fleet; no new cars will be purchased to accomodate this program.
  2. Sixteen vehicles will be assigned to senior officers. The other officers will share the five remaining fleet cars.
  3. Cars will only be assigned to sworn officers who live in Pinellas County (with the addition of on-call command staff and detectives).
  4. Except for those who are on-call, officers may only use the cars for city business or commuting to and from city business.
  5. Officers will be required to clean the vehicles on their own time and using their own supplies.
As the police chief, I support the take-home car program because I feel it benefits both the officers as well as the City. The advantages for the officers are fairly obvious, but not so apparent are the perks for the taxpayers. Consider these:
  1. In the case of the officers who live in Gulfport, the presence of the patrol cars will have a positive effect on crime prevention and community policing efforts.
  2. Take-home vehicles last longer. Studies in other agencies have shown that officers take much better care of assigned cars, which leads to longer life and lower maintenance costs. Also, with one officer driving the car, it will take more time to reach the replacement mileage threshold. We expect to keep these vehicles 20% longer than the fleet rotation counterparts, which can add up to a great deal of long-term capital savings.
  3. While all officers are subject to call at any time, those with take-home cars are more available to respond in case of emergency. During the commute, they are connected by radio and computer to all calls for service and can instantly respond if needed. At all other times, they have an emergency vehicle at their disposal to hasten the commute when necessary.
  4. This is a much more efficient use of officers' time. With fleet cars, officers must spend about a half hour every day loading and uloading required equipment, as well as performing inspections for damage and contraband. Those tasks are not required with assigned vehicles, which means on average, each officer will save approximately 90 hours per year that can be dedicated to actual police work.
  5. Recruitment of new officers will require less effort and expense. Take-home cars for law enforcement officers is quickly becoming the standard for this market. Without such a benefit, our staff must go to extra lengths to find, recruit, and retain qualified officers. Having this program in place, we will be able to compete for the best on a level playing field.
I truly believe this is a win-win situation for all parties, but if you have a different perspective, I'd love to hear from you. I will update this post with details on the date, time, etc. of the scheduled council vote.

1 comment:

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