During the campaign for mayor, Bob Buckhorn has said he would continue to allow Tampa police officers to take home their cars. Buckhorn said it reduced neighborhood crime and increased employee morale at very little cost.
Today, police can still take their cars home. Buckhorn noted that the policy is still in effect in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. We additionally confirmed that with Greg Stout, a Tampa police detective and the president of the Tampa Police Benevolent Association, the union that represents the Tampa police.
The take home car program is also mentioned in the most recent contract between the city and the police union. "During the term of this agreement, the City shall not remove the take home
car program,” the contract notes.
"He's been 100 percent consistent with that,” Stout said.
The question whether to let Tampa officers drive their cruisers home has been controversial since the late 1980s, when Buckhorn served as a special assistant to then-Mayor Sandy Freedman.
In 1988, Freedman eliminated the benefit, saving the city $2.2 million by selling some of the fleet. It was a decision that drew strong resistance from officers, many of whom had to buy personal cars with little notice. "Bob was opposed to me taking the cars, but he wasn't one of the principals making the decision," Freedman said during his 2011 race for mayor.
In 1996, her successor, Dick Greco, re-instituted the take-home car policy, making good on a campaign promise of his own.
Stout said that allowing police to take cars home has several benefits, such as saving time because police don't have to move equipment in and out of cars during shift changes. Police are also able to stop when they see incidents on the way to or from work, he said.
"It's a great incentive when you're looking at hiring from around the country that you allow a police officer to take a car home,” he said.
In this case, Buckhorn's promise was to change a policy that was already in place. We found that he has kept this pledge, and we rate this Promise Kept.