Marana Police Department first-line officers who live within the town limits may resume taking their police vehicles home, Mayor Ed Honea and Town Manager Gilbert Davidson said at the Nov. 16 town council meeting.
“It’s a good idea,” Honea said.
The practice of allowing police officers — as well as other town employees who are required to respond to emergencies — to take town vehicles home was halted as part of Marana’s budget-reducing strategy this year.
“We wanted to make sure our local government was reflective of the economic conditions of the community,” he said Tuesday. “We felt it was very important as a staff, as an organization, that we do everything we could to reduce the expense the town incurred.”
The loss of take-home vehicles was criticized by the Marana Police Officers Association, which complained about the decision during “meet and confer” discussions regarding its agreement with the town last spring.
With budget numbers for the first quarter of fiscal 2010-’11 being finalized, Davidson has “determined we have stabilized,” Honea said. Squad cars can be taken home “within neighborhoods” inside the town limits.
Officers began taking vehicles home Friday afternoon, according to Lt. Paul Ashcraft with the Marana Police Department. Thirty-two first-line officers live within the town’s limits, town spokesman Rodney Campbell said Monday.
Ashcraft said the policy has been under review for some time. It “came to the forefront” Nov. 11, when a high-speed chase on I-10 resulted in a fatal car crash that came to rest on the frontage road near the Arizona Portland Cement Company.
That scene “quickly overwhelmed the on-duty officers, so we needed some people to come in,” Ashcraft said. “It drove home the point we need to be able to get officers out at a more rapid rate. … They realized there is a legitimate need.”
Police vehicles in neighborhoods are also seen as a crime deterrent, Ashcraft said.