Cobb Police turned out in an unprecedented show of concern at a commission meeting a few months ago and made the case for this very clearly and strongly. Questions have been raised by the public at commissioners’ Town Hall meetings. Many of us who follow Cobb government closely have been aware of this growing problem for some time. I attempted to make “take-home cars” an issue in my 2012 political campaign but couldn’t get attention for it.
“Take-home cars” is not the total fix for Cobb police issues, but it’s one that could be handled immediately and it’s one that is fully justified by the increased police presence on the street that results when officers do not have to meet at shift change to exchange the car. The current SPLOST is presently estimated to be more than $21 million over plan for tax revenue. That’s more than enough to provide the cars, weapons, computers and other equipment needed to outfit every officer with no sharing.
Our SPLOST team has assembled TWO project lists in the current SPLOST. They “promise” to do all the projects on the “A” list and will work on the “B” list if funds are available. This is not consistent with the law. Our SPLOST team will make that $21 million disappear so fast you won’t know what happened to it. Since spending SPLOST money on the “B” list is already unlawful, let’s kill the “B” list and spend that money on worthwhile public safety needs.
“Take-home” police cars should not be seen as a “perk” for the police. Space doesn’t allow a full accounting here but I assure you the payback is positive in terms of actual cops on the street and there is likely even a savings in long-term total operating cost.
As for salaries and other budget expense lines, that, too, could be improved in the near term as revenues grow but that is a matter of choices made by senior management. If you watch carefully the meeting agendas, you will see regular increases in staff including several new high-paid management positions. More chiefs for the same Indians. But, not more cops or more money for cops. This is a problem created by bad decisions during the recession and perpetuated by bad decisions ongoing.