City Council says police officers need to keep cars

City Council says police officers need to keep cars

January 19th, 2011 by Cliff Hightower in News

The City Council voted 5-4 Tuesday night for the city administration to bring back a plan next week that would keep some police take-home cars on the road.

"Come up with some money to do that," said Councilman Jack Benson, who made the motion.

The resolution calls for the administration to give the council a recommendation that would pay for those officers who live within the city to keep their take-home cars. Part of the resolution also calls for the administration to come up with a plan that would allow those officers who live in the county to pay only their way to the city line.

The motion came as the city administration announced that police officers will be required to park their cars Thursday in three designated lots -- one on Amnicola Highway, one on 11th Street behind the old Farmers' Market and another on Main Street.

Councilmen Andraé McGary and Manny Rico, along with Councilwomen Pam Ladd and Sally Robinson, all voted against the measure. The vote came after heated debate about whether to allow the police department to accept donations to keep the take-home cars.

Police Chief Bobby Dodd said before the regularly scheduled meeting he is not in favor of the idea because he is the designated person to round up the money.

"I'm not in the business of taking donations," he said.


Mayor Ron Littlefield will come to the City Council meeting next week with a proposal about how the city can pay for take-home cars of those officers who live in the city. He also will include an alternate proposal for paying mileage to the city limits for police officers who live outside the city limits.

Councilwoman Carol Berz said she believed the city could look at the budget and find the $500,000 required to keep the patrol cars in officers' hands.

"I say we do it in professional fashion rather than bake-sale fashion," she said.

Benson then made a motion for those who live in the city to keep the cars, and Councilman Russell Gilbert added an amendment including those who live outside the city.

Paul Page, the city's director of general services, said the city is putting a fence around the lot on 11th Street and patching a fence on the lot on Main Street. He said both locations would have video cameras and key cards.

He said the cost to the city would be about $20,000 annually.