During a recent Avondale Estates commission work session City Manager Patrick Bryant proposed a possible take-home car program for the city’s police department. Bryant said his ultimate goal is a take-home car for every officer plus a small number of pool cars that stay parked at city hall.
Most commissioners were non-committal on Bryant’s idea, although Mayor Pro Tem Brian Fisher did say, “I struggle with adding more vehicles.”
Bryant said his primary motive is offering “a compensation package competitive with other municipalities so we can hire and retain quality officers.” Police Chief Lynn Thomas added that his force recently had two officers resign within two weeks to join departments with take-home programs.
Including the fact an officer can respond faster, Thomas said there are multiple advantages in a take-home program.
“There’s a psychological component,” he said. “You’re not sharing the car, so there’s a pride in ownership and your gear stays in the car. For the officer, taking home a car decreases expenses in gas and maintenance.”
Avondale Estates currently has nine police cars, all shared, for 14 officers (or 16 when fully staffed). Bryant said there are currently four in the fleet that could be “implemented right now” as take-home cars.
But a final decision rests with the board on whether it wants to gradually phase in take-home cars for all officers or if it wants any take-home cars at all.
Next-door city Decatur, according to its Chief Mike Booker, doesn’t have a take-home program.
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