Knightdale chief defends take-home police car policy

A Knightdale police car in a Holly Springs driveway. CBS North Carolina photo

KNIGHTDALE, N.C. (WNCN) — It’s happened in the past — police cars from one department out of their area, sometimes by hundreds of miles.

The practice uses gas money and causes wear and tear on vehicles that taxpayers — meaning all of us — are paying for.

One local police department is defending it.

One Knightdale police cruiser is a little far from home. CBS North Carolina found it in a driveway in Holly Springs.

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“It makes me feel as if at least our neighbors are experienced at crime-stopping,” said neighbor Paola Karlson.

Taxpayers in Knightdale are paying for that officer to travel back and forth.

“That might bother me,” another woman said.

CBS North Carolina wondered exactly how far and how long it would take to get from the Holly Springs driveway to the Knightdale Police Department.

It took 42 minutes to cover the 34 miles to the Knightdale Police Department.

CBS North Carolina requested Knightdale police department’s take-home car policy.

The policy says officers have to live within 20 miles of the department, but the chief can make exceptions.

Through a Freedom of Information Act request CBS North Carolina learned that out of the 29 take-home cars, about a third of the officers live more than 20 miles away.

“Many of those exceptions have been granted because of those officers specialized positions. Their status in an on-call capacity and their positions as supervisors,” said Knightdale Police Chief Lawrence Capps.

CBS North Carolina also obtained records that show where those officers are refueling.

The documents revealed trips to the mountains, beach and out of state.

We showed those to the chief.

“On a month-to-month basis I receive reports that I screen very carefully,” Capps said.

“We’re able to look at time sheets and we’re able to look at dates,” Capps added.

Capps said those trips were for training.

“Have you found abuse up to this point in your monitoring of the program?” CBS North Carolina asked.

“No, absolutely not,” Capps said.

The chief says his officers know those take-home cars are a privilege.

He said it helps them recruit and retain officers. He also said the cars are better maintained, because the car is that officer’s assigned vehicle.

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