LMPD :: Louisville Metro Police Department

Councilman says police should not take home cars in order to save money


A more than $3-million dollar budget gap has the city of New Albany considering whether police officers should take home their cars.

The idea has some New Albany city leaders on opposite sides of the aisle. 85-percent of the city budget goes to fire and police, so it makes sense that when the council looks for places to cut, they have to look there, but the police chief says eliminating take-home cars is not the way to go.

"It's either we have to do things like this or we are going to have to raise people's taxes," said Steve Price, New Albany councilman.

In a time of soaring gas prices and unbalanced budgets, the city of New Albany finds itself in a position many can relate to. "Something has to be done it is just part of the problem, we need in both police and fire, we need about $1-million from both departments," said Price.

Price says that's why everything needs to be looked at, including whether officers should take home their cars. "I don't believe cars should leave the city of New Albany unless they are in hot pursuit," said Price.

For at least two decades, police officers have been allowed to drive their cars to and from work, and police chief Todd Bailey says it's about more than just convenience.

"It's fundamentally important for us to insure that we have officers who at the ready have their equipment in a patrol car ready to respond," said Bailey.

Bailey says he understands money is tight. "We certainly will never squander tax dollars under my watch," said Bailey.

He says they already have a plan to help. "What we've simply done is implement a program where officers are to pay for a certain amount of their fuel depending on the distance they live from the city limit," said Bailey.

Officers will contribute $10 to $40 a month. He says this plan has been recently put in place, and it is optional. It's a plan, Mayor Doug England is behind. "We asked the officers and we are almost going to get 100% to voluntarily participate in contributing to the gas account," said England.

Price says it goes beyond fuel money and a policy needs to be set. "It's tough love if you will, but it is fair and it keeps us from liability, it keeps the mileage, even if they are paying the gas, what about the mileage, the mileage is always an issue when they want new cars," said Price.

They all agree that they want to be very careful, so they don't end up in situation like we just recently saw resolved in Louisville. After three years of court fights, where a judge ruled former Mayor Jerry Abramson should not have imposed fees, without negotiating with the police union first. A settlement was reached just this month.

LMPD officers got their money back, and from here on out, they'll only pay for their cars if they use them for an off duty job.