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City defends use of police car, policy

April 4, 2011

COLUMBIA CITY — City officials are responding to several letters in The Post & Mail accusing the city police, and in particular one mayoral candidate, of waste of government funds.
Letters submitted to the newspaper referenced a perceived misuse of a city police vehicle by mayoral candidate Gary Parrett.
The letter writers M.K. Meeks and local attorney Terry Smith accuse Parrett of driving a police car to his local restaurant while on sick leave from the police department.
“He was actually on light duty,” said Mayor Jim Fleck on Friday while addressing the city’s Board of Works and Safety.
“He did not abuse when he was off duty. I think that’s out of bounds. You shouldn’t tell just what you want to tell without the facts.”
Aside from Parrett’s alleged abuse of city property, the town’s take-home policy for police vehicles has also been criticized.
Proponents of the program say it pays for itself many times over even if it does cost the city more at the gas pump.
Board of works member Roger Seymoure said Friday he heard of suspects arrested in Warsaw for a crime who said they drove through Columbia City and targeted the Kosciusko County seat because “they observed more police cars in Columbia City.”
The mayor agreed.
“It (the take-home program) has not only reduced incidents of crime,” said Fleck, “but it’s costing the city less in terms of vehicle maintenance.”
Criticisms in newspaper letters also targeted what letter writers referred to as city police driving city vehicles out of town.
This was described by Fleck as Columbia City officers engaging in training in cities such as Fort Wayne.
Columbia City Police Chief Mike Petersen also defended the program, which he said has been in place for several years.
“I think it’s worth it and if they (the city government) decide not to do it, you’ll lose some services.”
Petersen said some of the positive effects of the program have been higher trade-in values for police vehicles.
He said prior to the program, a police car with 120,000 miles on it could be expected to bring about $300 in trade-in.
That number has jumped, Petersen said, to about $2,500.
The reason the police chief gave for this is the police officers’ “sense of ownership.”
He also said with police vehicles at the officers’ homes, the deployment of police assets to an emergency increases more than two-fold.
“You get the availability of 18 units instead of just seven,” he said.
“So, we think it’s (Columbia City’s take-home program) been real successful,” Petersen said.
Petersen also addressed the issue with Gary Parrett.
“He’s taking the blame, but if anyone was to blame, it was my fault,” said Petersen.
“He was on light duty at the time, but he ran some investigations for us.”

Comments

Grammar

April 9, 2011 by momof2 (not verified), 3 years 36 weeks ago
Comment: 3194

To help you review the proper use of there and their, I copied this for your reference.

Use their to indicate possession. It is a possessive adjective and indicates that a particular noun belongs to them.

My friends have lost their tickets.Their things were strewn about the office haphazardly.

Gary Parrett

April 5, 2011 by Terry Farris (not verified), 3 years 37 weeks ago
Comment: 3190

As for the little comment made by someone who is ashamed to put their name on their response. Gary was on light duty for your information. I don't feel that they owe you anything. When the administration says their is a list then their is a list. Why would they lie about it and not be able to prove it. Gary Parrett is an outstanding citizen in this community and there are a lot of people know it. So you should think things through befor you spout off. Oh yeah man up and publish your name. I will be voteing for Gary Parrett. And proud to do so.

Complete misuse

April 5, 2011 by Observer (not verified), 3 years 37 weeks ago
Comment: 3189

To say he was on light duty makes the situation worse to me. That means he was on-duty for the police department all those days he was also at the restaurant. As for running investigations, as the chief put it, I'd like to see a list of calls that Parrett was involved in, let alone "ran" during his light duty time. I think it would be a very, very short list, if there's even one at all.

Police take home cars

April 6, 2011 by momof2 (not verified), 3 years 36 weeks ago
Comment: 3192

As a taxpayer and lifelong citizen of CC, I have no problem with the police taking their vehicles home. Over the years the police have backed up the policy with evidence based research as to the overall savings in upkeep on the cars as well as the increased police presence in the community. My husband and I laughed out loud at the suggestion that the city should sell its police cars, ambulance, etc. If you don't like it, MOVE! Quit complaining and writing letters to the paper and do something productive with your life! There are plenty of nonprofits and places to volunteer to contribute something to our community that you could invest that time and energy in.

Is this directed at me? If

April 7, 2011 by Observer (not verified), 3 years 36 weeks ago
Comment: 3193

Is this directed at me? If so, take a chill pill. I have no problem with take-home cars. I would welcome a police car in my neighborhood. I have a problem with someone being paid for their time as a police officer but spending that time at their restaurant instead. I would say that about any officer in any city. It has nothing to do with it being Gary. I also volunteer several hours a week at a local non-profit. I also never wrote any letters to the editor. And who made Terry the God of Internet forums? I'm not required to put my name, so I didn't. By the way, you wanted to say "there" not "their."

Shame on you

April 6, 2011 by momof2 (not verified), 3 years 36 weeks ago
Comment: 3191

Shame on you and Terry Smith and the other person who wrote such an idiotic letter to the editor bashing Gary without knowing all of the facts. The police chief is not going to lie about what he was doing and frankly, the chief and mayor's word is good enough for me. To insinuate that no such list would even exist is laughable......

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