Possible change to Waveland vehicle take home policy could impact police officers

Updated: Jan. 22, 2018 at 11:02 PM CST
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WAVELAND, MS (WLOX) - Full-time Waveland city workers, primarily police officers, who take-home vehicles outside of the city limits could see a change to the city's policy soon. City leaders said the current policy is antiquated and needs to be rewritten into something that would benefit both the officers and the taxpayers.

When an emergency strikes, every second counts. That's why police officers and firefighters are allowed to bring their city vehicles home. But that could change.

Right now, the city of Waveland allows officers to take their patrol cars home. Mayor Mike Smith said that's an unwritten rule for a handful of officers and the assistant fire chief who live 20 miles away from the city. He said the actual written city policy states the vehicles can only go home if officers live within five miles outside of the city.

"I think there's a happy medium between where maybe we have a use tax, which is something not uncommon throughout the state," said Waveland Alderman Jeremy Burke.

Waveland Mayor Mike Smith said some officers were driving as far as Vancleave and Poplarville from Waveland, which caused more wear and tear on the vehicles and more gas usage. Now city leaders want to adopt a new rule on the take-home policy that benefits both taxpayers and officers. Some options they are looking at include how far officers can drive outside of the city to get home and charging some kind of use tax or surcharge.

"We need to figure out a way to have some kind of use tax in it so that if they do bring it home it's not a burden on the taxpayer. It will be a true cost for whatever it costs for them to bring it home," said Burke.

Burke said whatever he and other city leaders decide he still wants to see officers bringing home their assigned vehicles.

"If there is a large incident in the City of Waveland or Hancock County, I want the officers to be able to jump into their cars and go directly to the scene," said Burke.

Smith said the vehicle use tax or vehicle surcharge could include charging officers a few cents per mile for their travel home and to work if they live a certain distance outside of the city. This will be voted on in the next meeting, which is February 6.

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