DULUTH -- The mayor and City Council approved an amendment to the police department's vehicle take-home policy which now allows officers to take vehicles home if they live within 25 miles of the Public Safety Center.
The old policy only allowed officers that lived within four miles of the center to take vehicles home, which only three officers qualified for. The four-mile radius was the lowest in Gwinnett County, with all but one city having a policy of at least a 20-mile radius.
"For our officers, this became a problem as it related to getting subpoenaed for court," Police Chief R.D. Belcher said. "A lot of times our officers are going to court in their off time and having to drive to the station to pick up a police car and then drive to the courthouse. The city has to pay for their mileage and overtime.
Our officers were served with 1,272 subpoenas last year, he said. By having these officers take home vehicles, they will save the city money (mileage and overtime).
"We're required to pay for their travel time," Belcher said.
Under the new policy, only three officers live outside the 25 miles, but will also be given the option to take a vehicle home under one condition. They will be required to reimburse the city for one tank of gas per week to help cover some of the costs.
Belcher said having this policy can also be used as a recruiting tool for new officers and will free up a lot of parking spaces at the Public Safety Center.
"We'll have those spots freed up where the cars normally sit and we'll have those spots freed up that their personal vehicles sat in," Belcher said.
In other business:
-- The City Council approved a bid by Reeves Contracting Company to complete the Rogers Bridge Park canoe launch in an amount not to exceed $230,000. The work must begin within 10 days and will completed in 90 days. According to Mayor Nancy Harris, that's right on time for the spring and summer season.
-- Councilwoman Marsha Anderson-Bomar was appointed mayor pro tempore for the calendar year. Harris said she would feel confident in any of her council members serving in that capacity, so she rotates it on a yearly basis.
-- The city has hired James Riker as the new planning director. Riker comes to Duluth from Flowery Branch, where he was the city's planning and community development manager.