Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Chief: Out-of-city car take-home program costs $400,000 in gas

St. Petersburg police officer Daniel Godsall fills his take-home car at the city’s fleet pumps, 1800 7th Ave N., on June 27, 2013.

LARA CERRI | Times

St. Petersburg police officer Daniel Godsall fills his take-home car at the city’s fleet pumps, 1800 7th Ave N., on June 27, 2013.

ST. PETERSBURG — Police Chief Chuck Harmon has said for weeks that he could not produce numbers detailing the cost of the department's take-home car program, causing a backlash from several City Council members.

But at Thursday's council meeting, Harmon said it costs the city roughly $400,000 per year in gas for the 226 officers who live outside of the city to drive their patrol cars home.

This perk accounts for about 16 percent of the department's total annual fuel costs.

Last week Harmon said tracking the costs would be too much work for the department, but he said Thursday his staff was able to compile the fuel data Wednesday afternoon after he learned the program would be on the council's agenda.

"The whole reason that I was so persistent on this was because — what's the cost?" council member Leslie Curran said. "We were told we couldn't determine that, and that's not true."

Harmon said he had told them he couldn't provide the information because he thought the council wanted the cost of the entire take-home program, which would include costs like maintenance and other factors. That, he said, he still can't provide.

Harmon also told the Times that he could not compile the fuel costs for out-of-city officers.

Having out-of-city officers take home cars is helpful for officer retention, Harmon said. He said the annual time saved by officers not having to check out a patrol car each day is equivalent to having 15.9 additional police officers.

"I think we're pretty close to what our industry standards would be," Harmon said.

Though frustrated the cost figures weren't available sooner, several council members were happy that the program seemed to be beneficial.

"This is a good deal for our city," council Chairman Karl Nurse said.

The program previously required officers to live within the county to be eligible for a take-home car. In 2010, Mayor Bill Foster expanded the program to allow officers to commute up to 40 miles.

Council member Wengay Newton said he is still concerned that the department does not do enough to make sure officers don't abuse the perk by using the car on personal time.

The council approved a motion to further discuss abuse of the take-home car privilege in committee.

Chief: Out-of-city car take-home program costs $400,000 in gas 07/11/13 [Last modified: Friday, July 12, 2013 5:10pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Baker cautious on Pride politics

    Elections

    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  2. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  3. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  4. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips

    National

    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for the week of June 26-July 2.

    Events

    Vans Warped Tour: The festival returns Saturday to St. Petersburg's Vinoy Park, featuring shock-metal icons Gwar, hardcore punks Sick Of It All, ska band Save Ferris and indie-pop group Never Shout Never ($39.50-$49.50). vanswarpedtour. …

    Crowd for the Motionless in White band at the 2014 Vans Warped Tour at Vinoy Park, Friday, July 25, 2014.  CHERIE DIEZ   |   Times