GLASGOW – A majority of the five members present at Monday's Glasgow Common Council Public Safety Committee meeting agreed with a request from their police chief to increase the distance to the residences his personnel could have and still be assigned a take-home vehicle.
Glasgow Police Department Chief Guy Howie asked the members of the committee, who were meeting at the GPD headquarters, to change the wording in the policy manual from 25 miles from the police department to 35 miles from the city limits of Glasgow.
“It is going to be a big help with retention and possibly recruitment, to allow these assigned vehicles at 35 miles,” he said. “When we looked at 25 miles from the police department, it doesn't go very far. It just barely gets ….”
Mayor Harold Armstrong cut in and said that he and the chief had also discussed that if an officer driving home were to get behind a drunk driver in his or her own vehicle 28 miles from there at the edge of Barren County, “you can't pull that drunk driver over, but if you're in a take-home car, you can pull that drunk driver and it's a safety precaution to the community.”
“So, if you're driving 35 miles, you're covering a bigger base,” the mayor said. “I'm not going to say that's going to happen, but it could. One time, it would be worth all this effort.”
Howie said several police officers have taken enforcement action when out in their GPD vehicles, but it's also a response issue for when there is an incident for which he may need to call in extra personnel.
“They can immediately get in their cars and go to work,” the chief said, “where the ones that live farther out than that, they'll have to drive to the police department, get their equipment out of their car, put it in their assigned car that's parked here, and go to work.”
He said some current employees currently live at that 35-mile edge.
“And that's driving miles; that's not as the crow flies,” he said.
Armstrong then brought up the question of who else is allowed to be in the vehicle with that officer due to insurance concerns, and Howie said the current policy is to allow a family member if the officer is on the way to or from work.
For example, Howie said, if he had a child going to school here, he could drop off that child on the way to work rather than making a separate trip and then going home to get the GPD vehicle, saving about an hour back and forth.
He said the Kentucky League of Cities was OK with that policy, but Armstrong said the city's insurance agent of record had concerns about whether it would be covered if there were a wreck. Further discussion ensued, and Armstrong said they could look into the possibility of a specific exception to make it work for them.
The mayor also said the city's insurance would be put out for bids this year because that hadn't been done in five years.
Councilman Gary Norman asked how many take-home vehicles the department has.
“First of all,” Howie said, “everybody has an assigned car. Not everybody gets to take them home …, but it's first-come, if you live in the city of Glasgow, you get priority, then by your rank; then, if you live in Barren County, by your rank, and then by the mileage by your rank. Currently right now, we're running right at 40 cars.”
Councilman Wendell Honeycutt asked how many more would be added with the new policy, and Howie said four or five, he thought.
Armstrong said it's important to the officers here, because it's like a perk.
Howie said it's an average of about $115 to $120 per month in gasoline costs.
Councilman Patrick Gaunce went back to the insurance issue for a moment, saying he understood what the mayor was saying, but if someone told him he'd have to add that extra time in for a separate trip to the school, “I'd have to do something different.”
Armstrong said they would just need to work that out with the insurance company, and Councilman Marlin Witcher said they needed to make sure it's covered.
Honeycutt refocused back to the chief's request about the mileage, which Howie emphasized was only about the mileage at that point, and after a motion from Gaunce and second by Councilman James Neal, those two, Honeycutt and Witcher voted in favor of recommending the change to the full council and Norman voted against it.
Howie said he would ask the city attorney to draw up a municipal order for the policy change, and Armstrong said he would get clarification about the insurance coverage.
From there, each of the public-safety related department heads gave quick updates to the committee, beginning with Howie, who said he has no openings.
He has one person graduating from the Department of Criminal Justice Training academy March 7, and another one due to graduate two weeks after that. Two more will be scheduled for the training as quickly as possible, Howie said, and he's hired one who's already a certified officer from another city and is set to begin March 4.
New Dodge Durangos ordered are in and waiting to get “up-fitted,” and the department will be getting rid of four Crown Victorias, which are “eating us up in maintenance right now,” he said, before discussing some changes with the types of vehicles the department has had.
Glasgow Fire Department Chief Bryan Marr said GFD is taking applications through the end of this week, testing in March and hopefully hiring in mid-April. Since the last meeting, which was in December, a firefighter has left to go to another department and one that was in military reserves has been called to active duty. That will make a total of four openings, he said.
Marr also reported that the self-contained breathing apparatus ordered with grant funds should arrive around the last week of March, and he noted that authorization for two more grant applications was on the agenda for the full council meeting that was almost immediately following the committee meeting.
Chris Freeman, director of the Barren-Metcalfe Emergency Communications Center in Glasgow, discussed the updates to the server room and work to update the mapping program used.
“The new radios were installed last week,” he said. “They're doing great.”
Dispatchers are using headsets now to speak on the radio, and they're still in the process of getting used to that.