‘Take home’ cruisers proposed

EAST LIVERPOOL — Police Chief John Lane presented a proposal Tuesday to city council’s finance committee for providing his officers with “take home” cruisers.

Currently, his officers share the 11 cruisers in the department’s fleet, but Lane said the newest one has over 20,000 miles and the next newest, 94,000 miles.

Two newly purchased cruisers have not yet been delivered.

According to Lane, assigning a specific cruiser to each officer would be “a huge savings” for the city, saying “When a guy has a particular car, he takes pride in it and takes care of it.”

Now, after an officer drives a cruiser throughout his eight-hour shift, another officer gets into the same cruiser and drives it for his shift, and so on, Lane said, with little time for upkeep.

It was noted that, when an officer is off duty, his assigned cruiser could be getting serviced, not being driven by another officer.

Lane said he is currently getting between three and four years’ use out of a cruiser but predicted that could be extended to 10 years if each officer was assigned to one car.

He said revenue from the traffic cam tickets could be used to make the initial purchase of two new cruisers and more would be added until each officer has a car.

Service-Safety Director Brian Allen said some communities encourage their officers to even drive their cruisers when off-duty so the public sees it in use, but that would not be the case with the city department, with Lane emphasizing he would not put his family in a police cruiser.

Allen said those officers who live inside the city would be outfitted with their own cruisers first, followed by those who live outside, although it was noted those officers are only about five minutes away.

Research provided by Lane to the committee showed that benefits to take home cruisers include efficiency for officers who would not have to pick up a car at the station before starting their shift; being able to keep their equipment in one place and not have to move it from vehicle to vehicle; giving the impression of heightened police presence in a neighborhood; rapid response to emergency call outs; and more.

Lane noted that it would also be a recruiting tool for new officers to know they would have their own vehicle, as well as a negotiating point with the union, pointing to the current contract that includes a wage reopener if traffic cam revenue exceeds $250,000.

Committee members seemed favorable, asking if there would be an increase in insurance costs, but Lane said he checked and there will be no increase.

The committee did not vote to make any recommendation at this time, with Lane saying council would only have to appropriate the traffic cam money for the purchase of cruisers.

In other matters, the committee forwarded three pieces of legislation for council’s consideration at its Nov. 20 meeting, among them an ordinance authorizing the mayor to enter into a contract with Municipal Income Tax Solutions for income tax software and service.

Tax Commissioner Linda Harpold had outlined for the committee at its last meeting the benefits of the purchase, which will cost $31,861 over a period of four payments.

Also sent for council’s consideration was an ordinance to adjust appropriations, among which was $7,000 from capital improvements for the down payment on the software.

An ordinance creating a new Opioid Treatment Fund and line item and making appropriations for the fund was also forwarded to council. It will consist of $43,750 in grant proceeds that will be used to reimburse local drug treatment agencies for programs they implement.

Allen told the committee it is already working, noting that one person referred to Family Care Ministries has entered a long-term treatment program through the grant program.

The final ordinance forwarded to council was to pay Family Care Ministries $2.918.40 which is for the first month’s bill for services.