Thursday, May 24, 2012

Take-home police vehicles benefit communities, public safety

A police car in a neighborhood can go a long way toward preventing crime. That’s one of many reasons I support our department’s use of take-home vehicles. They increase police visibility, increase safety and improve response times to critical incidents. As resources permit, I plan to assign take-home vehicles to officers who reside in areas where there is a high incidence of crime to increase police visibility in hopes of reducing crime and building relationships. Eventually, I would like all patrol officers to be assigned take-home vehicles.

On May 17, an off-duty detective was driving his take-home vehicle in the Northland when he witnessed an armed robbery. He followed the suspects to Truman and Paseo, where patrol officers helped arrest them. The robbery victims were not injured, and the suspects have been charged. This is just one of many examples of how these cars are used to protect the public. Who knows how many other crimes would have occurred had that detective not intervened? Those suspects could have robbed and hurt many others throughout the city.

By being alert and having his police vehicle, that detective was able to stop armed robbers, even though he wasn’t on the clock. Homicide detectives, Tactical Response Team officers and many others get called out at all times of the day, and take-home vehicles get them there quickly to speak with as many witnesses as possible and/or to protect the public. A few years ago, when there was an active shooter at Ward Parkway Center, I was off duty but able to arrive on scene within several minutes because I had a take-home car.

And just having police cars out and about in the city brings a sense of security among law-abiding citizens and a sense of uneasiness among those who commit crimes. This article from Government Fleet magazine does a good job outlining the many benefits of police take-home vehicles.

Take-home vehicle use is carefully monitored so it is not abused. These vehicles and those who use them are audited every year to determine whether each vehicle’s use is justified. You can read those audits here. You also can see our policy governing take-home vehicle use here. Keep in mind that audits of take-home vehicles do not examine feelings of safety, improved relationships or other benefits of having police vehicles that are readily available to respond to critical incidents.

As long as police take-home vehicles continue to prevent crime and allow for quick response times, you will continue to see them on the streets of Kansas City.

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