SYRACUSE, NY – The City of Syracuse (N.Y.) Office of the City Auditor released an audit of the personal use of Syracuse Police Department (SPD) vehicles. The audit concluded that the SPD should consider implementing GPS tracking to monitor daily usage of SPD vehicles and reduce its take-home fleet.
The auditor report said there were 50 take-home vehicles in the fleet. Forty-eight of these are assigned to officers, and of these, 42 are taken out of City limits, while only six are assigned to officers living within the City. The auditors determined that take-home vehicles traveled 318,000 total commuting miles each year, which equates to fuel costs of $54,000.
The City Auditor recommended the City develop guidelines “restricting the distance that vehicles are allowed to be driven for non-work activities” and require officers to reimburse the City for excess miles. It recommended the City eliminate take-home vehicles for those who do not respond regularly to emergency calls. Vehicles with commute miles totaling 25% or more of total miles driven should be reduced. Officers’ self-reporting mileage logs show that 31 vehicles are driven more than 55% of miles as work-related, while the rest are used less often for work purposes.
The audit report also noted that officers are not being charged federal income taxes for the take-home vehicles based on an exemption to the rule for vehicles used in emergency operations. The City Auditor believes this exemption does not apply, as many of the take-home cars are unmarked vehicles, and the exemption is only for clearly marked vehicles.
The full audit can be found here.