Rockwood considers take-home vehicle policy

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By Cindy Simpson

Rockwood officials are considering whether to amend the city’s take-home police vehicle policy for some out-of-county officers.

After much debate, a committee was formed to bring back a recommendation.

“The city has a policy that allows employees in an emergency position to drive their vehicles home if they live inside the 5th Civil District,” Mayor James Watts said at a recent meeting.

The change is being considered because of a K-9 officer living in Morgan County.

Another patrolman lives in Rhea County, about 28 miles away.

The officers involved have agreed to reimburse the city for gas.

Officials said the situation would clear up parking congestion at the department’s lot, and would allow officers to respond more quickly if they are called in.

Councilman Ray Collett believes the benefit of cutting response time should be considered especially if the patrolman coming from Rhea County is responding to something on the south end of the city.

“When he has his patrol car, he’ll have his equipment with him. I like the idea of an officer having his gear in his car and being there with his car,” Collett said.

Otherwise, the officer would have to drive his personal car to the station and then backtrack.

Councilman Bill Thompson said the situation might impact how a council member votes for someone applying for an open position.

The department is currently advertising for two officers.

Councilman Harold Ishman had a different issue.

“The one thing that concerns me is the amount of miles that is going to be put on these vehicles,” Ishman said.

He said one officer working 300 days could easily accumulate 18,000 miles on a vehicle in a year just on the drive to and from work.

Councilwoman Krystal Hennager saw an argument for at least one vehicle to be driven home.

“I also think maybe the K9 should be a different issue,” Hennager said.

“He really needs a take-home vehicle,” said Chief Bill Stinnett, who was passing along his officers’ request for take-home vehicles.

The committee will be meeting Tuesday, Feb. 15 at 10 a.m.