Long Beach Council To Establish Police Car Policy - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Long Beach Council To Establish Police Car Policy

Next Tuesday, Long Beach Aldermen will vote on a car policy for police and fire employees. Right now, officers may take their cars home, but there is no written policy establishing guidelines.

Police officers say that even when they are off duty, they're on call 24 hours a day.

Officers say that's one reason for them to take home their patrol cars. Chiefs and sheriffs say the cars are also likely to be better maintained when one officer keeps them round the clock, and police cars in neighborhoods are usually welcome sights.

The proposed "take home" car policy in Long Beach won't change what police and fire department employees are already doing. But it will put rules and regulations in writing.

The policy's geographic boundaries are rather liberal. Any officer living within 50 miles of Long Beach can drive a car home. The mayor says the policy benefits the city.

"There's going to be a much more prompt response time for them to get to the scene of the crime when they've got that police car right there at the house," Mayor Robert Bass said.

Most law enforcement agencies have some kind of car policy. Along with cutting down on response time if an officer is called out, having the car at the officers home makes people in the neighborhood feel safe.

A Gulfport officer and two corrections officers drive their marked cars home to their Long Beach apartments. Apartment manager Dan Gregov is a former Long Beach officer, and he says he likes having the police presence on the property.

"It gives feeling; it breeds a feeling of security," Gregov said. "I can't guarantee security, no one can. But seeing the vehicles there makes people have a feeling of more security than they would otherwise."

Pass Christian Police Chief John Dubuisson agrees that people feel safer when police cars are nearby.

"People see these cars in neighborhoods, no matter what neighborhood it's in," Chief Dubuisson said. "It's a deterrent to crime, and I feel there's a benefit to taking them home, and that is one of the benefits."

Any officer who lives within 15 miles of the Pass Christian city limits can take cars home. Chief Dubuisson says there haven't been any problems with his department's policy, and he doesn't see any downside to it.

"As long as the officers follow the policy, I don't see any problems with it," Chief Dubuisson said.

In Biloxi, officers must live within the city limits to take cars home, and officers with the rank of captain and above are excluded from the policy. Gulfport's officers must meet several criteria before they can take home cars.

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