The Kent City Council and Kent Police Department are launching a program to “initiate a car-per-officer take-home program,” allowing officers to use new expensive vehicles, $62,000 each, as commuter cars. They plan to spend $2.6 million over three years to buy 52 cars, 14 per year (Kent Reporter, May 11).
Let’s see, an officer and his car will be “on duty” for a 40-hour week on average, barring overtime. So the officer and his car will be “off duty” for the other 128 hours of the week. The car will be used for personal use (commuting) and otherwise sitting in the officer’s driveway 128 hours of the week, or two-thirds of the time, instead of being on the streets doing “police stuff.”
Should we be letting firefighters take their fire truck home at night? How about Metro drivers taking their buses home at night? Of course not, that’s ridiculous.
Buses, fire trucks and police cruisers are all vital and expensive assets and should be in use as close to 24/7 as possible, not deliberately sitting idle two-thirds of the time. If these new cars were shared and “on duty” 24/7 instead of sitting idle 128 hours per week, Kent could save two-thirds of the $2.6 million, or $1.7 million.
They say “don’t worry, it’s not taxpayer money. It’s speeding violation money.” Are speeders not also taxpayers? Every dollar government gets comes from taxpayers. Could this nearly $2 million not be put to much better use? Especially in a time when the mayor and council are complaining about a shortage of money and trying to find new revenue and attempting to raise taxes?
– Brent Benson