The "Lexington Plan": Our Take Home Police Vehicle Policy

 

The Lexington Plan is a policy of allocating and maintaining police vehicles, and was started in Lexington, Kentucky in the 1970’s. Many Departments simply refer to it as a “take home” plan. Instead of a pool of cars used by every officer, the plan calls for each officer to be assigned a vehicle for use. The officer may use the car anywhere for personal use while off duty. The vehicle is kept at the officer’s house and must be parked in a conspicuous location. The plan is intended to prevent crime, save the city money and serve as an increase of patrol manpower allocation.

Galloway Township has used a  “modified” Lexington Plan since the mid eighties. Officers are assigned cars, take them home and park them in conspicuous locations. This policy was slightly modified again in 2003, permitting officers to use their vehicles for personal reasons within the geographical confines of Galloway. When using the cars on off duty time, officers are required to be armed, carry body armor and assist on duty officers as needed. They are required to intervene in any law enforcement situation that they encounter while using the department's vehicle off duty. Officers are not permitted to put in for pay during any of these off duty occurrences except in extreme circumstances (there have been no payments since this policy was initiated in 2003). Some officers living outside of Galloway and assigned to special critical units, such as the Emergency Response Team (ERT= SWAT) and the Fatal Accident Team, take their vehicles home as well so they may respond to critical incidences in an expedient manner. These officers do not use them outside of Galloway off duty.

The Department sees the benefits of such a policy as:

  1. Crime Prevention: Criminals are less likely to commit crimes in a neighborhood where a marked police vehicle is parked. Residents feel safer. 
  2. Increased Patrol: Anytime an officer is using his/her car off duty, patrol is increased, at no charge to the Township. Officers can provide assistance to residents and fellow officers.
  3. Cars Last Longer: The typical life span of a police car used 24/7 by several officers is 2-3 years. Take home cars can be expected to be in use for 5-7 years.
  4. A Sense of Ownership: Human nature dictates that officers will take better care of cars assigned only to them. Officer's moral is increased. It can be a recruitment tool. The fleet looks better and a professional projection of the Department is bolstered. Accountability for the misuse and faulty care of the vehicle is easier.
  5. Overtime is Drastically Decreased Almost Daily: Officers are “on-duty” upon signing on in their vehicles at home en route to the station. This could be up to a half hour before their shift actually begins. During shift change these on coming officers routinely take calls for off going officers without being paid for this time. If officers were not already in cars on their way at that time, officers already on duty would have to respond (remaining past their shift and creating OT) or; these calls would have to be “stacked”—response delayed until the oncoming shift was available. The consequences of delaying response to motor vehicle accidents, in progress emergency calls, etc., is obvious.
  6. Quicker Response and Better Preparedness to Critical Incidents: Every officer, including officers assigned to critical response units, can respond from home at anytime with all the needed equipment. Without a take home car, officers must respond to the station first, (perhaps proceeding past the incident location) locate a vehicle, gather equipment, then respond. In critical situations such as  barricaded persons, shootings, explosive device threats, manhunts, etc., swift manpower allocation is vital and minutes count a great deal. At a moment’s notice, because every officer is equipped with a pager and a vehicle, the Township can mobilize its entire police force, fully equipped. Very few Departments the size of ours can do that. 
  7. Lastly, and Perhaps the Most Important to Many People-- IT SAVES TAX DOLLARS: Figures studied by the Galloway Township Police Department and Township officials over the years have shown that maintenance costs are drastically reduced using a take home program. Ed Isaacoff, Division Vice President of First Vehicle Services (the Township's contracted fleet maintenance provider with corporate offices in Severna Park, MD) provided Galloway with data stating that the cost of maintaining a pool fleet for the Galloway Township Police Department would cost approximately 228, 000 dollars annually, while the maintenance cost of the Township's take home program is 130,000 dollars annually. An independent assessment of Galloway Township operations by Richard T. Walsh, Ph.D., commissioned by Council in 2006, concluded that the take home policy "is very effective and should be maintained." There are also independent studies from police departments across the country indicating similar findings. Studies show that in order to maintain a safe, adequate pool system, the same number of patrol cars would have to budgeted by the Township annually as is required to maintain a take home program. Maintenance costs would increase, and the benefits of the take home program outlined above would be eliminated. Galloway's Lexington Plan is the envy of many police departments. The start- up cost of purchasing enough vehicles for a take home program prevents many departments from benefiting from such a system. Galloway passed that point years ago.

    For information gathered by other sources about police take home programs visit:

    1. Police Fleet Magazine (Article regarding East Peoria, IL take home program, J.D. Schmechel, Sergeant, East Peoria, IL)
    2. Stillwater City, OK (Stillwater City, OK study in reference to that city's program, Major David Lester, Stillwater City Police Department)
    3. Police Fleet Magazine (Article regarding Tacoma Police Department's take home program, Tacoma, WA, Bruce Mann & Douglas Goodman, PhD, Professors of Economics at the University of Puget Sound)
    4. Mercury Associates Study for Tacoma, WA (Mercury Associates, Inc., a national fleet management firm, for the city of Tacoma, WA on that city's take home program)

                                                                                                                                           

 

 

 


© 2002-2005 Galloway Township Police Department