Local News

Plan for Raleigh Police to Take Home Patrol Cars Could Stay Parked

Posted June 4, 2000 7:00 a.m. EDT

— How does a police department keep officers from leaving the force after having spent thousands of dollars training them? A Raleigh City Council member thinks he has the answer by increasing pay and letting officers take their patrol cars home.

"And I think that will also go a long way to A, helping community policing, and B, showing these police officers that we care about their contribution to the community," says Kieran Shanahan.

Police departments that let officers take patrol cars home say the program has many benefits, including better response time, officer morale, and upkeep of the vehicles.

Taking the cars home would eliminate commuting costs and keep officers from removing their equipment during every shift change.

Wake County deputies have been taking their vehicles home since 1984. The sheriff's office is pleased with the results, saying a big advantage is response time.

"A situation in 1988 that I recall was a tornado that struck in northwest Wake County and Raleigh, and within an hour we had 80 units on the scene there," says Maj. Ralph Stephenson of the Wake County Sheriff's Office.

But it looks like the idea will remain a tough sell in Raleigh.

Results of a recent Raleigh police poll show officers would rather have a bigger pay increase than take their patrol cars home by a two to one margin.

"Money that would be used for cars, let's put that into salaries and let's get that taken care of. That's the bottom line," says Jim Nidiffer of the Police Protective Association.

Critics say taking patrol cars home will not work in Raleigh because most officers do not live in the city. The plan would also require a larger fleet.

The City Council discussed the issue during its work session Tuesday morning. No decision was made.