Thursday, September 22, 2016

Little Rock tallies cost of take-home police cars

Posted By on Thu, Sep 22, 2016 at 2:38 PM

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In response to my Freedom of Information Act request, the Little Rock police department has tallied the mileage and cost of the cars provided for a little more than a third of the force's officers to drive home.

It's substantial,but the available figures don't differentiate include both commuting and official use. Obviously, some officers are on the streets during the day more than others.

Fuel has cost $159,704 this year to date for 161 cars (omitting 29 assigned to undercover officers). The 161 cars assigned to these officers have been driven 1.339 million miles this year and 19.5 million miles in aggregate over varying periods of use for each vehicle — six to eight years in many cases, Willie Hinton, the city fleet manager said. The cars have required $2.8 million in maintenance.

One way to look at cost is to apply the federal IRS reimbursement rate for personal use of a car to mileage driven. At 54 cents a mile, the cost of mileage through not quite three-fourths of the year is about $723,000. I'd earlier figured commuting cost, based on Google distances between hometowns, at roughly $1 million for the year. But again, the mileage provided by the city includes official mileage and lacks 29 cars.

We've reported previously that 189 officers are allowed to take cars home, with police chief approval. One officer is assigned two cars and 29 go to undercover, which left the 161 detailed by fleet services manager Hinton. The theory of the assignments is that they can respond to emergency calls in official vehicles.

Of those 189 approved, 141 live outside the city limits of Little Rock, some at distances as much as an hour  away. The question of city residency arose amid the debate before a second defeat of a city residency requirement for police. Only about 160 of more than 520 police officers live in the city of Little Rock. The numbers are disproportionately skewed racially. Most white officers don't live in the city. Most black officers do. The police union has cited crime and the city's schools (which are majority black) as reasons to live elsewhere.

City Manager Bruce Moore has asked for a review of the policy. City Director Ken Richardson, for one, has objected to the effective subsidy this provides for almost 12 dozen officers to live outside the city. He's long pressed for take-home cars for city resident cops as a crime deterrent. This accounting provided by the Police Department gives some idea of the value of each car used by a commuting officer.

This is the list provided by LRPD of officers with take-home cars and the mileage, cost of maintenance and fuel costs figured for each vehicle.

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