Program Restricting Police Cruiser Use Comes In For Council Scrutiny
A program restricting Lexington police cruiser use is generating $220,000 in savings a year, but the figure falls far short of expectations.
Lexington Police Chief Ronnie Bastin told the council’s Public Safety Committee Tuesday that the new policy, which requires officers to pay $50 to use their cruisers to drive to and from off-duty jobs, has generated only a fraction of the $800,000 of expected savings. Prior to the program, police were allowed to drive the cars freely.
That news had a number of council members questioning the wisdom of the program, which has also reduced the number of calls off-duty officers have responded in the last year by more than 4,000. Jennifer Mossotti said the savings might not be worth the cost in the long run.
"I've heard from my neighborhoods that they miss the police presence in the neighborhoods. They miss those cruisers being parks in the neighborhoods and parks [and] just the visibility, so I would hope that we could at least look at this a little bit sooner than two years from now," the council member said.
For the time being, the program will remain in place because it’s part of a collective bargaining agreement. To reverse or amend the program would require another round of negotiations between the city and police.
Prior to enactment of the policy, roughly 5,000 calls a year were being answered by off-duty police.