Hobart board reviews take-home car policy

Dan Smith

HOBART — Hobart Police Department's takeaway car policy will be reviewed in a workshop session to determine if it can be extended to officers who do not live in the city.

Takeaway vehicles are currently available to police officers living within the city limits. The Hobart Police Lodge 121 Fraternity is calling for adjustments to take-out vehicle policies to allow officers living in other local communities to use patrol cars to travel. going to and from work.

The issue was submitted to Hobart's Public Works Safety Board on Wednesday, but there are mixed views on the proposal.

As consensus was unlikely to be reached during the session, Board members and police agreed to meet at a workshop to continue discussing the issue.

Hobart officer and president of Lodge 121, Steve Aponte, has proposed allowing the city to expand the take-home car policy for a year to see how effective it is. Then investigate again to determine if adjustments are needed.

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Aponte said making takeaway cars available to officers living in other areas would help with recruitment.

He said other local police departments offer such benefits to officers, and it's difficult to attract quality candidates to police departments when those perks aren't available.

“We are falling off that ladder,” said Aponte.

Clerk Deborah Longer has described the Hobart Police Department as "second to none" but is still unconvinced about extending the takeaway car policy to officers who do not live in Hobart. .

Recruitment of emergency responders has been a major topic of the city council's agenda in recent months, Longer said, and the commission is providing police departments with several new tools.

This includes raising salaries for officers, adding personal leave, and cutting health insurance premiums by half for all city employees.

Longer also said increasing the use of takeaway cars could increase costs for the city at a time when Hobart is facing financial difficulties.

Longer said the municipality recently ended two bond issuances totaling about $10 million to fund Hobart's operations after Southlake Mall's property tax refund was pending.

"This is insane," Longer said. "We don't have to do it. It pisses me off. It puts me to sleep."

Cops have long said that living in Hobart offers a number of advantages, including having personnel nearby in case of an emergency.

"I feel strongly that the privilege of living in a town is a takeaway vehicle because it benefits not only the cops, but the community," she said.

Mayor Brian Snedeker said the take-out car policy had been put forward before and he initially opposed it.

He said his stance softened after observing how the police department was a "good manager" with seized funds. , said it had "substantial savings" on its Hobart capital investment.

“I think there may be an opportunity to create a plan that can meet what[Aponte]wanted, while at the same time providing the ability to hold residents accountable and provide the costs that go with it. This,' he said.

If the board chooses to expand the takeaway car policy, Snedekor said a one-year evaluation is important to ensure it's working properly.

"I think we should at least give them a chance," he said.