City reverses course on police car policy

Published 12:33 am Saturday, August 27, 2011

Vicksburg police officers will continue taking their cars home after city officials on Friday amended a previous board policy restricting the use of city vehicles after working hours.

“There is a public outcry from the citizens over our decision on the police cars,” North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said. “They want the police officers to take their cars home instead of parking them. I’ve had people call me saying they like seeing that marked patrol car in their neighborhood.”

The car policy, announced in an Aug. 10 memo to employees, allowed only a small group of city employees to take cars home. The move was seen by city officials as a way to reduce fuel costs.

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In the police department, chief Walter Armstrong, deputy chiefs Mitchell Dent and John Dolan, and investigators on call were allowed to take cars home.

“We’re glad they reconsidered that policy,” Armstrong said. “It’s important to public safety in the community.”

The police department has a car-per-officer policy, allowing officers to take their assigned cars home with them.

Mayfield said a police car parked in a neighborhood, “serves as a deterrent. A guy looking to break into a house will see that car and decide to go someplace else.

“These officers patrol those neighborhoods where they live, and having that vehicle there means they will probably patrol those neighborhoods more,” he said.

Armstrong said having officers to take their cars home allows them to better respond to emergencies. He recalled a recent weekend of bad weather when a shift was called out early to assist with emergencies.

“They were able to respond immediately coming from home instead of having to go and get a car on a lot,” he said.