published Friday, December 24th, 2010

Chattanooga ready to charge for take-home cars

Chattanooga city employees who have take-home cars soon will have to pay for the privilege.

Come mid-January, city workers living inside Chattanooga will be charged 20 cents a mile and those living outside the city will pay 30 cents a mile if they take their cars home, according to city officials.

Chattanooga police Sgt. Craig Joel, vice president of the Chattanooga Chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police, said many officers will begin driving their personal vehicles to work instead of paying the charge.

"This is going to destroy our response times and the structure we base our responses on," Joel said.

Instead of driving home at the end of a shift, officers will have to drive to wherever they left their personal vehicles and leave all their equipment in their patrol car.

"The advantage of taking the cars home was to have us completely outfitted for anything that should arise and go from [our] house to the emergency," Joel said. "That is being eliminated for the price of a few gallons of gas."

Chattanooga Mayor Ron Littlefield said in a phone interview Thursday that the mileage charge, which was part of the 2010-11 budget that took effect July 1, will save about $500,000.

"We're starting midyear to give the employees six months to get prepared for it," he said.

When employees do the math, he said, they'll probably find it still costs less to drive a city vehicle back and forth to work than their personal cars.

Chattanooga City Council Chairman Manny Rico said the city is doing all it can to cut corners on the budget. He said the council was trying to prevent layoffs and tax hikes.

"Everybody needs to pitch in and try to cut corners," Rico said. "If we raise property taxes, it affects a lot of people."

Joel estimated it could cost officers $200 to $400 a month, but the ultimate cost will be in response times.

He said specialty units such as K-9 cars and SWAT team members will be most affected.

"We may have to drive past an emergency to get to our equipment," Joel said. "When we are in our personal vehicles they are subject to the same traffic laws as everyone else, if there is traffic it's going to take longer to get to our patrol cars.

"The bottom line is this is going to do egregious harm," he said.

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Allison12 said...

So, Ron the Conn is cutting take home police cars in the name of savings, but creates EAC and other wasteful programs. What is wrong with City Leadership, public saftey or police response time are the most essential service. Their priorties have no connection to logic. How about reducing nonessential programs such as EAC group of Missy Cruthfield who are running their private work on city time,and a radio show, so take the savings from abolishing EAC to fund the police vechicles.

December 24, 2010 at 1:03 a.m.
dendod said...

Chattanooga's police are underpaid compared to other cities our size. Now our mayor is not only going to hurt them financially but hurt the citizens of Chattanooga too. The police cars have a deterrent effect sitting in the driveways of the officers when they are off duty. The point that officers will drive by an emergency to go get their equipment should be enough to tell the mayor to get the $500,000 from one of the fancy smancy art projects and fund take home cars. Chattanooga is a dangerous place to live and with the uptick in gang violence, I think this is one of the dumbest things Ron Littlefoot has come up with. With Doodle Bug and Amazon coming into the area, you mean to tell me that he can't find $500,000 to fund something as vital to our security as police take home cars. Looks like the gang members and crooks won this round. Since Ron Littlefoot's attempted recall, he's talking sensible about the homeless. Of course he's just talking. He needs a wakeup call on this take home car issue. What do you say we look the City budget over and give him some suggestions on maybe where to plant a few less trees, build a few less ball fields, lay a little less sidewalk or bike paths and fund this issue that is vital to PUBLIC SAFETY.

December 24, 2010 at 8:46 a.m.
rolando said...

Sgt Joel hit the nail head solidly.

Those officers on call or duty-responsive will now drive carefully back to work, sign for and pick up a patrol car [with lights and siren, etc], sign for the weapons therein, and respond to whatever it is they respond to. Hopefully no one will have died in the meantime...

Next thing, Littlefield will prohibit taking duty firearms home. So before our police can get their guns they must first find the armorer, get the place unlocked and de-alarmed, and check out/sign for their equipment.

Just another reason to be prepared to protect yourself and not depend on a 911 response.

Been there, been restricted that way. Nothing but the purest, publicity-driven, most poorly thought out, plain old stupid decision yet.

December 24, 2010 at 9:08 a.m.
Allison12 said...

Mayor Ron purchased the polluted Farmers Market property for a $775,000 and now to be used as parking lot for police cars. Oh, there is so much more to tell about Tn Par Parking lot. Stay tuned.

December 24, 2010 at 11:41 a.m.
scoob69 said...

Manny Rico says, "everybody needs to pitch in and cut corners." Really Mr. Rico, then let's start with the executive branch and work down! Why is it that you and Mr. Murphy get reimbursed for your travels, but a police officer must pay for gas to attend a school, a school that he/she also must pay for! Schools to meet the requirements for the "career development ladder." Maybe the council can approve some funds to do a study on that! Why does a police officer with 24 years experience and stacks and stacks of schools and certificates have to start from the bottom of that ladder, a ladder that has been climbed 150 times? Oh thats right, that officer is not going anywhere so you can screw with him/her all you want!Let's look at why Mr. Mayor increased the contract for McKamey Animal Center, named after his buddy Mr. McKamey of course, to the tune of $360,000! All other areas of the police departments budget was cut! Yes, the animal centers budget comes from the police departments budget,not Neighborhood Services where it did come from...guess they needed more food, ice, $400 car allowance, newspapers, magazines....

December 24, 2010 at 10:11 p.m.
dave said...

Sounds like some more BS to me... Just today I was watching a off-duty officer and a "friend" causally having lunch at a restaurant having driven there in a Chattanooga P.D. car. ...sitting in the parking lot engine running burning up "free to them" $3/gallon gasoline. Everyone else has to pay for their ride to should the police. This has nothing to do with response time but it is just another perk that goes with the job. It needs to be cut out.

December 24, 2010 at 10:23 p.m.
scoob69 said...

This is not just about police officers having take home cars. Its about a very corrupt city government and if you think its BS then go do your own research...I have! And by the way, that's why there is Internal Affairs...if you see something that don't look right, report it! Or you can belly ache. I am not sure what people don't understand about response time, its not new math, but of course there are always people that just like to be downers!

December 24, 2010 at 10:50 p.m.
dendod said...

(Sounds like some more BS to me... Just today I was watching a off-duty officer and a "friend" causally having lunch at a restaurant having driven there in a Chattanooga P.D. car. ...sitting in the parking lot engine running burning up "free to them" $3/gallon gasoline. Everyone else has to pay for their ride to should the police. This has nothing to do with response time but it is just another perk that goes with the job. It needs to be cut out. Username: dave | On: December 24, 2010 at 10:23 p.m)

I say you're making your story up dave. You don't know who's on or off duty. You probably are still mad about that peeping charge from a couple years ago. Get a grip dave.


December 25, 2010 at 10:14 a.m.
Allison12 said...

City has offered the Farmer Market property for the police to park their personal cars, or what is called the TN Par Police Parking Plan. Under Paul Page plan, Police pay General Services to drive the partrol car. or can pay to park on the new TN Par Police Parking lot, gotta recoop the $775,000.

December 25, 2010 at 6:28 p.m.
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