Government Fleet Top News

Providence Police Chief Defends Take-Home Vehicle-Use Policy

May 21, 2008

PROVIDENCE, RI – Police Chief Dean Esserman is defending the Providence, R.I., police department’s policy that allows district commanders, high-ranking officers, and detectives in specialized investigations to take home their city-owned police vehicles, according to the Providence Journal.

Recently, WPRI-TV Channel 12 reported that one of the police lieutenants who uses a take-home vehicle lives 80 miles away in Connecticut. The lieutenant was recently promoted as a commander in charge of one of the city’s nine police districts.

All of the district commanders, high-ranking police officials and some detectives and investigators have take-home police vehicles –– about 60 vehicles out of the 297-vehicle fleet.

Esserman said the take-home policy was in place when he was hired in 2003 and he sees no reason to change it. The idea behind the policy is that the rank brings round-the-clock responsibilities. The detectives involved in specialized work keep unusual hours and they need the vehicles for undercover work. The district commanders and high-ranking chiefs are expected to respond to their neighborhood meetings, public events, and major crimes at all times.

While a number of the top-ranking police officials live outside the city, Lt. Dean Isabella lives the farthest away –– with a commute to and from northern Connecticut. The Providence Police Department doesn’t have a residency requirement.

In Rhode Island, the state police are the only law-enforcement agency to have take-home vehicles for its entire contingent. The state police require troopers to live in Rhode Island. Maj. Steven O’Donnell said the state police decided to allow all 213 troopers to take home their police vehicles after a cost-analysis study conducted several years ago found that it would be more efficient, according to the Providence Journal.

The vehicles suffer less wear and tear because they aren’t being used continuously by all the shifts, and the state police have found that the troopers take better care of their assigned vehicles, and they are required to make sure their cars receive monthly maintenance. By having take-home police vehicles, the troopers are also on the job as soon as they leave their homes, which puts more troopers on the road during the shift-change hours.

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