Our South Florida criminal defense attorneys recently read in the South Florida Sun Sentinel that tax-payers are funding take-home vehicles for employees of the Broward and Palm Beach County sheriff’s offices. Deputies are permitted to drive department-issued vehicles to and from work and for personal use depending on the county. Some even get free, unlimited gas, which is subsidized by tax-payers.
In Palm Beach County, over 1,500 employees of the Sheriff’s Office drive cars home and more than 10% of those employees live outside Palm Beach County. Close to 3,000 Broward Sheriff’s Office employees drive take-home cars, but it’s not known how many of those employees live outside of Broward County.
The policy has been defended as a benefit to the public, because it supposedly serves as a deterrent to would be criminals. Another rationale is that it allows officers to respond more quickly to emergencies.
However, these take-home cars cost the counties millions of dollars each year. The Broward Sheriff’s Office reportedly spends about $19 million annually on gal, vehicle maintenance and replacement, but it’s unknown how much of those costs are a result of the take-home car policy. West Palm Beach has restricted its take-home car policy to officers living in or near the area. The city saved over a half million dollars by revoking vehicle privileges from 80 employees.
The question remains: should take-home cars be a tax-payer expense? And is the added crime prevention worth the added expense?
Source: South Florida deputies get take-home cars – and we pay, South Florida Sun Sentinel, November 13, 2010 Continue reading