Former CPD Officer: "Sounds like a broken system to me" - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Former CPD Officer: "Sounds like a broken system to me"

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Story by Gordon Boyd
Eyewitness News Reporter

CHATTANOOGA (WRCB)-- Chattanooga's mayor and some city council members say it's about equity and shared sacrifice.

But many police officers insist that paying to take home their patrol cars is a slap that will compromise their crime-fighting abilities, and your security.

Mayor Littlefield's spokesperson says he expects a number of police officers to park their take-home cars in protest come New Year's Day.

How many, or how many will start driving them again, he isn't sure.

But one former officer says this sort of thing puts you down and possibly out.

"I was a ten year veteran making what a starting rookie makes," says David Mays. "That sounds like a broken system to me."

David Mays says nickel and diming is what drove him off Chattanooga's police force eight and a half years later.

"He wants to hang a carrot over our heads and say here's your take-home car," says Mays. "Plus, we're not going to give you the raises we said we'd give you when we hired you."

Police groups guesstimate that keeping a take-home car will cost the average officer $75 to $200 a month.

They could have to pay $25 more if they moonlight.

"That's not the total cost of operating that car for an officer to use it to go back and forth to work in," says Richard Beeland, spokesperson for the Chattanooga Mayor.

Beeland says gas and wear and tear would cost you three times more than the 20 to 30 cents an officer will pay for a similar sized car.

But some officers, off-camera, claim the city is trying to make money rather than recoup it, charging them for cars that the department already leases.

"There's no generation of any money here. The lease pays for the use as a police car during work. If you're going use it for anything other than work, there's going to be an additional cost associated with that," says Beeland.

"You should protect your core," says Mays. "Your city employees, your public works, your fireman."

These days, David Mays sells cellular and wireless phone services.

He misses his fellow officers, but not police work.

A force already short, he says, can't afford to lose more veteran officers.

"Most of the guys in the department love the job so much that they're going to take the mayor's punch in the mouth and they're going to keep working," says Mays.

Mays says fewer than half of his graduating recruit class remain as Chattanooga police officers.

The mayor's spokesman says 58% of Chattanooga officers live outside city limits.

City hall will re-evaluate charging for take-home cars if stats show it's hurting "crime fighting".

The Police Benevolent Association says it'll have a "major presence" at city council's next meeting.

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