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In Tactical Mode....
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
By Jessica Van Sack / The Beat
Monday, July 28, 2008 - Updated 46m ago

Fill 'er up: Boston police cars fuel up at one of the department's nine pumps in the city.

More than 200 members of the Boston Police Department are driving unmarked cruisers home on the taxpayers' dime, an exorbitant expense and part of a system that even the brass admits is out of control.

"We realize we wandered astray for a while," said Christopher A. Fox, head of administration and finance, who discovered no one was keeping track of take-home cars shortly after he joined the department in 2005.

"We didn't have a rule. Because of lax management, that became the practice."

The department stopped enforcing rules governing who could take cruisers home sometime in the 1990s, Fox said. The department then stopped keeping track altogether of who was driving them home. All officers need is permission from a supervisor to drive one home.

BPD fuel costs have risen 74 percent in three years - from $1.8 million to a projected $3.69 million for this fiscal year. There are 248 cars that are taken home daily, about one quarter of the roughly 900-car fleet. Most of the take-home cars are unmarked cruisers.

"There are people in this department who use take-home cars who probably shouldn't have them," said union president Jack Parlon, head of the Detectives Benevolent Society. "I think the department acknowledges that."

For those who have to respond to emergencies at all hours, take-home privileges are logical. But too many other employees are enjoying the benefit.

All BPD vehicles are fueled up at one of the department's nine pumps throughout the city. So for those issued cars - some of whom predate the Hub residency requirement and can therefore be used by those who live outside the city - a BPD vehicle means a free commute.

Meanwhile, an epic fuel crisis and $4-a-gallon gas has many Bay State residents boarding crowded trolleys and riding bikes to work, while other municipalities have pushed hard to cut fuel costs.

BPD officials refused to discuss why specific individuals are authorized to take home cruisers. The list includes the command staff, droves of detectives, four BPD academy officials, a sergeant in the mounted unit, six motorcycle sergeants, the bomb squad commanders, the head of the hackney division, the telecom manager, two hazardous-material officers and the manager of the BPD fleet.

"We can't control the cost of fuel, but we certainly can limit the number of cars out there that are burning fuel on the commute to and from home," said city Councilor Stephen J. Murphy, chairman of the Committee on Ways and Means.
He inquired about BPD's vehicle take-home policy at the department's budget hearing last month.

Records provided by the BPD show the employees authorized for city cars include many on-call detectives and members of the command staff.

BPD department negotiators recently appeared poised to dump take-home cars altogether, Parlon said, spurring some tough talks.

"My biggest concern is that we have the ability to respond to incidents that we should and are expected to be at," said Parlon, who represents many on-call detectives with take-home cars. "There are lots of things these detectives carry around in their vehicles that they need at crime scenes."

As of Aug. 1, BPD civilians, detectives and officers with take-home privileges will have to justify keeping their cars overnight. The department is issuing new rules in an attempt to cut costs and do away with the haphazard system.

At some point, Fox said, the BPD is going to require superior officers to justify taking cars home after contract negotiations with their union conclude.

Said Jeff Conley, head of the Boston Finance Commission, "Anytime you don't have a policy, yes, it's inexcusable."

3,110 Posts
Special units like the bomb guys and Supervisors by all means take the cruisers home. With detectives, I'm sorry you can't argue you actually get called in EVERY night from home requiring the use of a marked cruiser. To be fair to the detectives when so and so detective is on call for a certain day have him or her take the cruiser home.

601 Posts
The people that get called in the most are the rank and file not these self important boobs..If they don't get cruisers then who's getting them...Probably all the paper pushers, and or civilian employees who don't need them...This is truly a waste..PS Love the authors name who rights these it just a clever pun..THE BEAT by Jessica van SACK
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