Squad cars have squads of just 1
The responsibility of a car is almost as heavy as the vehicle itself. Vehicles issued to police officers have even more weight to them — that being the expectations of the entire community.
“When vehicles are issued to officers as a piece of their equipment, they are responsible for the car, any damage that happens to the car, and making sure maintenance is done at the appropriate time,” Hillsboro assistant chief Jessey Hiebert said. “You’ll notice a sense of pride when an officer has his own personal patrol car.”
Hillsboro has individually assigned cars since 1997. The cars tend to last eight years and usually stay in the possession of a single officer the entire time. Afterward, they are assigned to part-time officers and stay at the police station.
One benefit of individually assigned cars is closer monitoring of when it needs maintenance, Hiebert said.
“A lot of the time, when cars are shared, all that gets overlooked,” Hiebert said.
While the city pays for all forms of maintenance, it is with the expectation for the officer to take care of the car. Officers wash it on their own time.
Response times also are shorter when an officer has all equipment waiting in his or her driveway.
“Basically, they’re working the moment they leave the house,” Hiebert said. “It lowers response time, it’s safer for the public, and it’s safer for the officer.”
Individual cars also can be customized for accessibility if needed.
Larger cities can’t afford individual assignments because of the number of officers.
“I can’t even imagine how many patrolmen the city of Wichita has,” Hiebert said.
Those officers may not live within the city limits, either.
“If one of us lived in Newton or in Marion, I highly doubt the city of Hillsboro would let us drive the car that far to get home,” Hiebert said.
Last modified Sept. 29, 2021