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Huron touts cruiser take-home policy as money saver

Andy Ouriel • Nov 10, 2012 at 9:37 AM

The city's take-home policy for police cruisers allows the department's 13 full-time officers to maintain full possession of the vehicles at all times.  

A full-time officer in Huron typically drives a cruiser until it's no longer serviceable. Among its many touted benefits, the policy cuts down on mileage.

A Huron police officer puts about 1,500 miles a month on a cruiser, or 18,000 miles a year. Conversely, the city's studies show that if the 13 full-time officers shared four cars, they'd likely put 50,000 miles on a cruiser each year, with a constant need for repairs.

"You take a lot better care of it when it's your own," Huron police Officer James Bowens said. "When I was given a 1996 cruiser in 1997, I had that car for six or seven years. When it went out of rotation, I was kicking and screaming. I didn't want them to have it because I knew how to drive that car."

Also, if city officials required officers to share cruisers, the police department would have to rotate new vehicles into the fleet more frequently.

The officers must pay repair costs on their own, if they're found responsible for any damages to the vehicle.

Since 2009, the city has substantially reduced overtime spending as a result of this policy. Compared to the 2009 numbers, Huron's 2013 budget shows a 73 percent reduction in overtime costs, roughly a savings of about $45,000 a year.

"The program is an effective deterrent of crime-related activity, and improves safety and quality of life," Huron city manager Andy White said.

A parked cruiser can ward off potential criminals eying a neighborhood, and the vehicle also deters speeders.

"My neighbors love it," Chief Robert Lippert said. "They have a feeling of security because they think a bad guy who sees a (police) car will think twice about doing anything bad."

The Erie County Sheriff's Office employs a similar program. Sandusky and Perkins police departments shy away from this policy.


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