CHATTANOOGA, TN – Mayor Andy Berke held a press conference Monday morning to announce changes to the controversial police and fire department’s take-home car policy instituted by prior Mayor Ron Littlefield.
The new policy will no longer charge officers who live outside the city limits for the miles accrued within the city limits.
Mayor Berke said, “This revises an unpopular policy implemented several years ago that charged any officer living outside city limits for every mile from their home to their station.”
He stated, “For months, I have been in discussions with our police officers, and the leaders of various organizations and departments. They have all told me the same thing – this is a real issue that has a real impact on officer moral and community safety.
“The existing take-home car policy was overly burdensome on officers by charging them even when driving within the city limits. This new initiative will boost officer morale, and balance the need to have motivated officers with our duty to use taxpayer dollars in the most effective way possible. By working together, we were able to find a solution that respects our officers and is responsible to taxpayers.”
In attendance at the press conference were Chattanooga Police Chief Bobby Dodd, Chattanooga Fire Chief Lamar Flint, City Council Chairman Yusuf Hakeem, City Council members Larry Grohn, Jerry Mitchell, and Chip Henderson, as well as representatives from the International Association of Fire Fighters, Fraternal Order of Police, International Brotherhood of Police Officers, and National Black Police Officers Association.
Chief Dodd said, “Not only is the change in take-home cars good for an officer from morale and financial standpoints, but it’s good for the public. Having more police cars on the street increases our presence in the community and positively impacts public safety.”
Mayor Berke went on to outline the need for public discussions around the Fire and Police pension fund. Citing the financial issues faced by many cities throughout the country, Mayor Berke called on leaders to work together to build a consensus on ways to reform the pension fund.
“My administration will always put public safety first by implementing policies that attract talented, dedicated individuals to our fire and police professions,” said Mayor Berke. “Such policies will ensure public safety employees have long careers with the city and receive the benefits they earn while using taxpayer dollars in the most responsible way possible.”
Mayor Berke stated that a task force will be created to review discuss and options for the Fire and Police pension fund; the task force will report their findings to the mayor by December.
From The Chattanoogan