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Why are police allowed to drive the police cars home when they live in another county?

Matt Tomsic

The Wilmington Police Department’s vehicle assignment program is governed by a six-page policy, which guides the 220 police officers who take cruisers home from work.

Officers fuel their cars at city gas stations, which costs $59,000 annually, according to an e-mail from Lucy Crockett, spokeswoman for the police department.

Crockett notes the cost of fuel is offset by documented savings from the program.

An average officer spends 20 minutes each driving to and from work each day. Taking a patrol car home allows officers to respond to emergency calls and dispatchers while they drive to or from work, Crockett noted.

Officers add 12,200 patrol hours each year by taking their cruisers home. Those patrol hours would cost the city $189,954 to make up for.

Since January, officers responded to 467 calls while driving to and from work.

The program also controls cost for maintaining police cruisers. The average life of a pool car is four to five years or 90,000 miles. The average life of a take-home cruiser is eight years or more than 100,000 miles. In 2003, the average maintenance cost on a marked car was $2,400, which has declined to $2,100 per car in 2009 for take-home cruisers.The program is  restricted to officers who live within a 15-mile radius of the Wilmington city limits.

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13 Responses to “ Why are police allowed to drive the police cars home when they live in another county?”

  1. On June 30, 2010 at 7:33 pm Debra wrote:

    I’ve posted this same comment on my FB page with some for and some against officers taking their cruisers home, I feel it’s a waste of tax payers dollar’s. Do firemen or rescue personnel get to drive the fire trucks home or take the rescue vehicle home? I’ve never seen that being done.

  2. On July 3, 2010 at 1:37 am Pete wrote:

    This makes sense. Fuel costs have gone down, maintenance costs have gone down, officers are helping more because they’re available, and the cars are lasting longer.

    It seems that thinking out of the box worked on this one. Whats there to complain about? It would seem stupid to NOT do this.

  3. On July 3, 2010 at 4:57 pm JO SMITH wrote:

    A lot of city official get to take their vehicles home. Also, a lot of these officers who take cars home are SWAT team, negotiators, detectives or others who do not just work 40 hour shifts but are on call 24-7. I’m sure you’d hate it if you had an emergency and no one could get to you because they lived somewhere that they had to drive to the station to get their police car and then come help you. My poor husband gets pulled out of bed about 3 times a week having to rush off to do all sorts of emergency calls. We do not have enough deputies and officers to cover our county and city and they do NOT get well paid or have good benefits, much like our poor over-worked teachers in NC. Thanks for the comment, though. (P.S. E.M.S. personnel are not city employees and senior firemen DO have cars AND firemen stay at the station overnight during their shifts.)

  4. On July 6, 2010 at 10:21 am sheila wrote:

    all that is fine and dandy but, what if they live in Bladen Co. and work either in New Hanover or Carolina Beach? Is this still feasible and can they arrest someone or give a ticket out of their jurisdiction?

  5. On July 8, 2010 at 8:05 am Former LEO wrote:

    Sheila – Municipal officers have jurisdiction up to one mile outside the corporate city limits; therefore, can only write tickets within that jurisdiction. Also, it plainly says the City of Wilmington’s policy only allows for travel up to 15 miles outside the city so if they live in Bladen Co., taking a car home would not be permitted. It’s been proven time and time again that it is beneficial to the taxpayers to allow take home cars as the reasons that have already been stated.

  6. On July 9, 2010 at 4:08 pm cin c wrote:

    I do not agree w/officers taking their vehicles home, but if they do, shouldn’t they have to park on the correct side of the street of in their own driveways……

  7. On July 11, 2010 at 7:10 pm Scott wrote:

    I like the idea of police officers being able to take their cars home. I believe it helps lower crime in the areas they live in. Going through a neighborhood and seeing a police car sitting in a driveway would make me want to go somewhere else if I were up to no good. I have several officers that live within a few blocks of me and I like the idea of everyone knowing they are police officers.

  8. On September 5, 2010 at 10:54 pm not telling wrote:

    I have seen Wilmington Police cars all the way out in Rocky Point and farther, what about this 15 mile rule ? is it really enforced ? or is it just bologana on paper ? I could post the addresses of a few cars way out on Rocky Point Homes

  9. On January 8, 2011 at 8:01 pm jon wrote:

    It is 15 miles as a crow flys not road miles.

  10. On January 9, 2011 at 11:04 am ken wrote:

    I think it’s great that the City can save $300.00 a car for maintenance but the bigger picture is how much is it costing tax payers for all of the extra patrol cars that sit it the officers driveways while not on duty.

    Just hypathetically speaking if the officers are working 8 hr tours than you need triple the cars because of 3 shifts. If they run 12 hr tours they would need double the cars. So what is the added cost? I have heard that the cost of a patrol car is $50,000.00 per unit, so if there are 30 cars per tour you are looking @ $1,500,000 per tour.

    So if you have even 2 tours of 60 cars the cost is $3,000,000.00 and you save $3,000.00 per car for maintenance you will save $180,000.00 but if you use a single car that buth tours use then you save $1,500,000.00 in vehicle cost and another $90,000.00 in maintenance cost so who is pulling the wool over whose eyes.

    People wake up! It’s typical government waste! Do you also know that your patrol officers haven’t had a raise in the last couple of years! Well who cares because we can’t change the government, the government controls us. We are run by the mafia and its called government.

  11. On January 9, 2011 at 2:08 pm jon wrote:

    The above post is way off.

    Police cars are bought through the state at a negotiated discount. Something around $25,000 for each outfitted vehicle.

    There are only about 120 or so patrol officers that have take-home cars. The other hundred is divided between supervisors, detectives, and other support positions.

    WPD used to have a shared-vehicle program, and still does for officers that haven’t been there long enough to earn a take-home car.

    The shared vehicles were not taken care of by the officers…they had no vested interest in what kind of condition the car was in. With individual cars that are assigned for several years the officers are much more interested in keeping them nice and driving them much easier. And the shared vehicles are quite literally driven 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

    And there are many already mentioned benefits to this program; saving 30 minutes or more a day between officers having to drive to the station and take out their personal property while the on coming officer put his in the car, the free man-hours created with 220 officers driving 20 minutes a day in a police car, the additional calls for service, the increased visibility of marked cars, the feeling of safety from those that live in communities with police cars parked nearby, the saved time and fuel from officers not having to drive back to the station from the further districts (20 minutes in Wilmington traffic is not that far), and the incentive to attract and keep officers by offering a take-home vehicle after a period of tenure.

  12. On January 9, 2011 at 7:44 pm Bob wrote:

    Well, everybody knows that patrol cars fly like the crows. I see the patrol cars all the way to Clarks Landing in Rocky point. I’m sure the mileage would confirm it is further than 15 miles. I haven’t seen a single stop by WPd Officer in Pender County and as noted they have no jurisdiction. Policy, while sound in theory, needs policing, no pun intended. Bob

  13. On February 9, 2012 at 11:41 am Central wrote:

    patrol cars often have to travel out of county for various reasons-training, follow-ups, and special assignments. There is no telling why you’d see a WPD car in rocky point or anywhere else more than 15mi out of county. If you ever see one, just ask them. unless they are not permitted, they will almost surely tell you what they are doing.

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