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Norlina police chief recommends officer take-home vehicle program - The Warren Record: News

Norlina police chief recommends officer take-home vehicle program

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Posted: Wednesday, February 14, 2018 8:36 am

Norlina Police Chief Greg Hughes is recommending that the Norlina Town Board adopt a take-home car program as a potential cost savings for the town and means of better recruiting and retaining officers.

He introduced his recommendation during the board’s Feb. 5 meeting. More in-depth discussion is expected during its March 5 meeting.

Hughes told the newspaper last week that in developing his presentation to the board, he studied policies of law enforcement agencies across the country and related input from national and international police organizations.

Currently, officers drive their personal vehicles to the police department on Main Street, where they pick up an available police car for patrols and to respond to calls. As part of a take-home car program, Hughes is proposing that a police vehicle be assigned to each officer.

He compared the practice of police officers not using assigned vehicles to what he called the “rental car theory,” or the idea that people drive rental cars harder than they do their personal vehicles, and tend to be less careful with them. Likewise, if officers have assigned vehicles with them at work and at home, they are more careful with them, Hughes added

“Research shows that officers who drive their cars from home and back, and are responsible for their care are more accountable,” he said. “A take-home vehicle program cuts down on maintenance and replacement costs.”

Hughes said that any take-home car policy must set a limit on the distance that officers are permitted to travel in their police vehicles. He suggested 30 miles from Norlina Town Hall.

As part of his recommendation, Hughes also proposed that officers pay for gasoline through per-mile fee. Officers would be responsible for notifying him when maintenance needs to be done, such as when the oil needs changing or if a malfunction light on the dashboard comes on.

In January, Hughes implemented quarterly inspections as part of the police department’s inventory process to determine what equipment is in place and what is needed. He said that vehicle inspections are now part of the process to help ensure that oil changes are up-to-date and tread on tires is still good.

Hughes added that having a police take-home car program would aid the Norlina department in recruiting and retaining officers, and improve the safety of the town’s citizens.

The police chief said that when officers are driving home in their personal vehicles, they sometimes come to the scene of a vehicle accident.  Because they are not in police cars, they are not equipped to provide immediate assistance. Hughes added that the sight of a law enforcement vehicle in someone’s driveway can help to deter crime.

He plans to study take-home car policies of police departments in the region to discuss at the Norlina Town Board’s March meeting.


Grant applications

Hughes said that he had applied for a North Carolina Governor’s Crime Commission grant in the amount of $24,500 in order to purchase eight radios for the Norlina Police Department’s vehicles.  Grant recipients are expected to be announced later this month.

Hughes said that currently, officers must utilize their portable radios when they are in their vehicles.

He will also apply for a federal grant to help cover the cost of replacing a 2007 model police car that has accumulated 147,000 miles. Hughes plans to include the cost of a replacement vehicle in the police department budget request for the 2018-19 fiscal year.