City should think twice about police SUVs

Almost four years ago the Times-Republican printed an article by Ken Black that pointed out the fact that police protection was costing the taxpayers of Marshalltown more than other comparable sized communities.

My guess is that the people in a position of authority who could have investigated and found out the reasons for this fact chose instead to stick their heads in the sand and hoped the storm of criticism would blow over.

Those less perceptive would say that the officers are being paid too much for the thankless job they perform. That’s doubtful since they are represented by a union which would make sure their wages were comparable to other police departments. If anything, they are not paid enough. To help satisfy this suggestion it would be easy to determine the salary of each rank as compared to other police departments. Comparing the number of police officers per capita and the total number of support personnel could effect costs as could the number of officers in each rank. All easily investigated, public open records.

The cost of gasoline has to be a large portion of the expenses of the police department as well as other city departments. The number and type of vehicles being used will effect this cost. Are they using economical mid-sized cars, less economical full-sized sedans or gas guzzling SUVs?

I can not see any good reason for the use of gas guzzling SUVs unless the street department is discontinuing maintaining the streets, then they will be needed for the police to be able get around. At a recent council meeting the police representative requested funds for the purchase of new SUVs with the reason being given that they were needed to haul equipment. A commercial mini van costs half as much and could haul all the equipment at better gas mileage. Drug dogs are not equipment. In Des Moines, a slightly larger community, drug dogs ride in full-sized police sedans.

Are the city vehicle purchases designed to fill the basic needs of the departments or they satisfying the egos of the individuals in those departments?

Last, are city employees allowed to drive city vehicles back and forth to work at taxpayer expense even if they live eight miles outside of the city limits? None of my employers provided me a vehicle to drive to work.