Favorite

Police cars for outliers 

A benefit for nonresident officers.

click to enlarge A PERK FOR 141 LRPD OFFICERS: In a week's commute, all the officers who live out of town and take their police cars home with them put about 30,000 miles on the vehicles.
  • A PERK FOR 141 LRPD OFFICERS: In a week's commute, all the officers who live out of town and take their police cars home with them put about 30,000 miles on the vehicles.

Little Rock City Manager Bruce Moore has asked the chief of police and his assistant chiefs to review the department's policy on who gets to take home police cars after the Arkansas Times' Arkansas Blog reported that 141 of the cars are going to officers — at no cost to them — who do not live in the city of Little Rock.

The expensive subsidy provided to nonresident officers has not been part of the ongoing debate about a city residency requirement for Little Rock police officers — rejected Sept. 6 by the City Board of Directors.

Officers say the provision of the cars is not a perk but a necessary provision that allows them to respond to emergencies at any time.

Information released in answer to Freedom of Information Act requests indicated that 189 police officers — more than a third of the 528-person force — are allowed to use their police vehicles to commute to work. Forty-eight of those officers live in Little Rock.

The city pays for fuel, oil and maintenance of the cars. The home use is covered by the Municipal League insurance that covers the city fleet. The commuting runs up millions of more miles on the city fleet and amounts to a valuable financial subsidy to commuters worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, if you consider that the federal government estimates the cost of using a car (for allowable reimbursement rate purposes) at 54 cents a mile.

The commuting benefit, it seems, offsets in some measure the complaint by officers who defend living elsewhere that Little Rock is too expensive. They also say Little Rock has poor schools and, ironically, too much crime.

However, City Director Erma Hendrix, in pushing for a residency requirement, said that race is the real reason officers choose not to live in Little Rock. Indeed, white officers overwhelmingly reject Little Rock as a place to live, while the majority of black officers live in the city. Hendrix argued that requiring officers to live in Little Rock would benefit race relations. She and the two other black directors were the only votes for a residency requirement.

Incentives to officers to live in Little Rock have been part of the debate. But the provision of take-home cars, which saves wear and tear on personal vehicles, could be seen as an incentive to live outside Little Rock.

According to 2015 figures, there were 354 white officers and 160 black officers. Only 75 white officers chose to live in Little Rock; 99 black officers did. The city did not provide a racial breakdown on which officers got take-home cars, but take-home car privileges would likely not depart much from those percentages.

Some of the officers who are commuting come from as far away as Hot Springs, 110 miles away (round trip), and Searcy, 98 miles away (round trip). The cities that Little Rock officers commute from, with estimates of round-trip distances to the cities and the number of officers living there in parentheses, are: Alexander (32 miles, 14 officers), Austin (54, 3), Bauxite (49, 2), Beebe (68, 1), Benton (52, 21), Bigelow (78, 1), Bryant (41, 16), Cabot (48, 11), Conway (62, 5), Greenbrier (83, 3), Hensley (39, 2), Hot Springs (110, 2), Jacksonville (30, 2), Lonoke (52, 3), Mabelvale (25, 6), Malvern (94, 1), Maumelle (33, 19), Mayflower (42, 1), North Little Rock (10, 9), Perryville (92, 1), Redfield (49, 1), Searcy (98, 1), Sherwood (23, 11), Sheridan (70, 1), Vilonia (77, 3) and Ward (64, 1). If you multiply each commute distance by the number of officers and multiply that total by five days a week, officers are putting nearly 30,000 miles a week on the city fleet. Multiply that times 48 (giving four weeks off for sick days, vacation, leave and other non-use) and the mileage totals almost 1.5 million. At 54 cents a mile, the cost is something in the range of $780,000 a year at federal reimbursement rates, or an average of about $6,800 per out-of-town resident. 

City Director Ken Richardson said in an interview last week that he's long advocated for take-home cars for all city resident police officers, both as an incentive to live here and because they are visible symbols of police presence. However, Richardson said he was told by Moore that could cost $5 million to $7.5 million. Moore, on the other hand, has told the Times that the city has made no effort to compute the cost of providing free cars for commuting.

Take-home privileges are decided by the chief of police. The policy on take-home cars is that "certain department personnel in specialized assignments which by the nature of the assignment mandate their return to duty during off-duty hours for investigation or other critical police responses may be assigned a take-home Department vehicle."

John Gilchrest, with the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police, told KARK-TV, Channel 4, reporter Shannon Miller last week that "If we need a SWAT team, I don't want to have to wait for somebody to go get their car and equipment to come ... I think that's just ludicrous."

Director Richardson told KARK that Little Rock ends up "subsidizing the public safety needs in these outlying communities as well because you end up having the police cars parked in their driveways."

Cars are also provided to 33 city employees who are not members of the police force, including 18 Fire Department personnel (six chiefs, five captains and two firefighters), two assistant city managers, and a total of 13 employees of housing, parks and public works. Of that number, 19 employees do not live in Little Rock.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of Little Rock Police Department

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Whatever secret bill Senate considers, winners and losers are the same

    The U.S. Senate seems likely to vote Tuesday on a secret health bill. Whatever version is rolled out — and if Sen. John McCain's doctor approves a fly-in so he may vote — the outcome is the same. Bad for working poor and previously sick; good for rich people.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • Two shot in home on W. 19th

    KARK reports that a 19-year-old woman and 20-year-old man were found with gunshot wounds when police responded to a house in the 4200 block of W. 19th.
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • Magic Springs coaster stops

    The X Coaster at the Magic Springs amusement park in Hot Springs stopped running this afternoon, KARK reports, and the station quotes the park operator ass saying guests are now "enjoying the park."
    • Jul 24, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Asa on pre-K

    • Aug 17, 2016

Most Shared

  • Football for UA Little Rock

    Andrew Rogerson, the new chancellor at UA Little Rock, has decided to study the cost of starting a major college football team on campus (plus a marching band). Technically, it would be a revival of football, dropped more than 60 years ago when the school was a junior college.
  • Turn to baseball

    When the world threatens to get you down, there is always baseball — an absorbing refuge, an alternate reality entirely unto itself.
  • Another Jesus

    If you follow the logic of Jason Rapert and his supporters, God is very pleased so many have donated money to rebuild a giant stone slab with some rules on it. A few minutes on Rapert's Facebook page (if he hasn't blocked you yet) also shows his supporters believe that Jesus wants us to lock up more people in prison, close our borders to those in need and let poor Americans fend for themselves for food and health care.
  • 'Cemetery angel' Ruth Coker Burks featured in new short film

    Ruth Coker Burks, the AIDS caregiver and activist memorably profiled by David Koon as the cemetery angel in Arkansas Times in 2015, is now the subject of a short film made by actress Rose McGowan.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Viewed

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Ruth Coker Burks, the cemetery angel

    • I'm only 31, still quite a young lesbian by some standards. Born in 1986, I…

    • on July 24, 2017
  • Re: Up and running

    • INTERESTING - However the idea isn't new.........a Major Technology Park was planned for the old…

    • on July 24, 2017
  • Re: A week at Midtown

    • Yes indeed, it is so wonderful to finally be back home. This is my 10th…

    • on July 24, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation