An article in today’s Indianapolis Star describes changes in the Marion County Sheriff’s Department policies on personal use of take-home police vehicles by deputies, in order to help close their budget gap.
According to the article:
“Deputies assigned office vehicles that they use for personal errands will pay a monthly fuel charge of $75. Those who use office vehicles for off-duty employment will be charged $150 a month, according to a Sheriff’s Department news release.”
This seems like a reasonable compromise, especially as fuel costs rise and county revenues fall. The surcharge for use in off-duty employment is particularly appropriate. But it is important to remember that take-home marked law enforcement vehicles are not primarily a perk for the officer — they are a benefit to the public. Having additional police cars out on the road effectively increases the perceived size of the police force at minimal additional costs. The officers can be dispatched quickly. And potential law-breakers don’t know that the officer is off-duty — they just see an additional sheriff’s vehicle on the road.
Just as a point of comparison, Monroe County’s policy on take-home vehicles for law enforcement officers reads as follows:
Law enforcement officers may exercise de minimis use of county vehicles that are assigned as take-home vehicles for reasonable and limited personal transportation within the county. During such use, the officer shall maintain radio contact with Central
Dispatch at all times, and shall respond to emergency situations when requested by Central Dispatch. The officer shall not substantially use a county vehicle in his or her business pursuits, or to perform another job. The officer may use the vehicle to drive to and from other employment, but may not use the vehicle to perform substantial duties at that employment. The Sheriff shall monitor use of such vehicles to assure compliance with this policy and report such use to the Monroe County Commissioners.