The City Council is poised to vote Monday night on the first phase of a program intended to encourage community policing and reward officers who live in the city they protect.
The council will vote on a contract to spend nearly $1.2 million to buy 35 Dodge Chargers for a take-home car program. The contract is the first phase of a three-year program to supply all officers who live in the city with a vehicle that they can take home.
“That’s the goal,” said City Manager Tom Bonfield.
The program is one step the city is taking to persuade officers to live in the city, which encourages a connection to the community and increases visibility.
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“We are hoping that provides a sense of community,” said police spokesman Wil Glenn.
Some officers have take-home cars because of their duties, but nearly 100 use vehicles that are typically in a 24-hour rotation among law enforcement officers.
The take-home cars program also provides a cost benefit because the cars aren’t in use 24 hours a day, Glenn said. They are also a morale booster and an effective crime fighting opportunity.
“(Officers) are ready for action at a moment’s notice,” Glenn said.
Initially the city planned to distribute the cars based on seniority, Bonfield said. But Police Chief C.J. Davis is instead distributing them based on neighborhoods.
“Just looking at more where the cars could be more of a crime deterrent,” Glenn said. “She assigned the first six cars, trying to spread them out throughout the city, where we thought the visibility would be of the best use.”
The City Council on Monday also plans to discuss whether to buy 530 body-worn cameras. Some members support the purchase, while other are concerned about transparency in light of state laws that limit when body camera footage can be released to the public. To learn more, go to: http://bit.ly/2g2Q0Gz
In other business, the council will also revisit PulteGroup’s controversial rezoning request for a 300-unit development in western Durham. On Nov. 7, the council continued the public hearing on the rezoning that would allow PulteGroup to develop 83 acres between Berini Drive and Interstate 85 South. Opponents say the development would have double the density of their neighborhoods, increase traffic on the two-lane Berini Road and the nearby Cole Mill Road and pollute Ellerbe Creek with stormwater run off. To learn more go to:http://bit.ly/2fIZV1x
The council meets at 7 p.m. Monday in City Council Chambers, 101 City Hall Plaza.