Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Louisville FOP President McGuire Speaks; Are You Listening?

The following is a letter from FOP President John McGuire regarding the police "take-home" car issue. I forcefully agree with him.

While making my way to work today through the snow and ice covered roads, I was monitoring the police radio mounted in my take home cruiser. The radio traffic reflected that many officers, who were off duty, and in an unpaid status, were busy rendering aid to those in need. To these dedicated law enforcement officers, I offer to you my sincere gratitude and applaud your continued devotion in these times where your very own Mayor and Chief ignore and eschew your bravery and dedication.

In addition to deterring crime, the take home car program comes with the responsibility to respond to citizens in need of help, whether the officer is on or off duty. There is an enormous distinction between a “free car” that is similar to the average citizen’s car and a police car with lights, sirens, and the words “police” and “911” affixed. An officer does not have individual freedom in a police cruiser as he or she would in their personal vehicle. Yet somehow this has been viciously misrepresented. The real benefit to this program lies with the community for which it was created.

If you remove the officers assisting people while they are off-duty and unpaid, the statistics are frightening. In 2007, there were an average of 2.8 police officers per 1000 residents for cities of similar size to Louisville. Even if LMPD was fully staffed, the number falls to 1.76 officers per 1000 residents, making the Louisville Metro Police Department nearly 750 officers short in comparison. Taking this into account and using the Mayor’s own figures for pay and population, the take home police car program saves this city almost 70 million dollars per year.

To those officers who know what it means to be a public servant and to risk your very lives to protect our citizens and respond to their calls for help, whether on duty or off, I commend you! Without your sacrifice and continued dedication to honor your oath, our community would not be safe. To the Mayor and his minions who are trying to undermine the integrity and critical need to have extra officers and patrol cars protecting our streets, you have our oath as well. When we, off-duty police officers, see you and your families in crisis, we will serve and protect you as well. That is our oath. That is our integrity. That is our sacrifice.

John McGuire
FOP President

This program has become the main focus of penny-pinching tightwads bent on cracking the police union. Forget it. As I have said before, the take-home car program is a "Past Practice" and is here to stay, and I am confident that state Labor Cabinet will agree. I wish McGuire well in educating the public; That alone seems to be the biggest obstacle to overcome.

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