By Victor O'Brien
Killeen Daily Herald
A plan to put a tighter leash on police and fire take-home vehicles was put on hold Tuesday.
At Tuesday's workshop, the Killeen City Council discussed a proposal by City Manager Connie Green to save on fuel costs by reducing the distance take-home vehicles are allowed to travel.
Councilman Juan Rivera had requested the item be on the agenda because initial discussion had the plan starting Tuesday. It was determined after 45 minutes of discussion, however, that since Green was not present at the workshop, the plan was not going into effect and any action would have to wait.
The plan would restrict police and fire take-home vehicles to within either the Killeen city limits or an extraterritorial jurisdiction described as a five-mile radius of the city. Drivers living outside those ranges could lose their vehicles.
Since take-home vehicles are fueled at the city's fleet barn using individual gas keys, the city would save on the total distance driven, Director of Finance Barbara Gonzales said. The Killeen public safety department, including police and fire, makes up an estimated 33 percent of the city's fuel costs, Gonzales said.
The current policy allows for vehicles to be within a 30-minute response time; however, individual departments are allowed to have stricter policies, Gonzales said.
Police Chief Dennis Baldwin said if the restrictions were tightened and vehicles were taken away, response times would be delayed for on-call detectives and SWAT officers.
For example, a detective would have to drive to the station, get his vehicle with his crime scene kits in it and then respond to the crime scene, which would delay evidence handling, and suspect, witness and victim interviews, Baldwin said.
Rivera said he was concerned that with Killeen having made strides to curb crime and reduce its high burglary rate, this would be a step backward.
Fire Chief Jerry Gardner said the fire marshal and three fire investigators who live outside city limits would be affected because they would not be able to respond as promptly to fire scenes.
Councilman Scott Cosper expressed some confusion about wording in the proposal. He said the proposal was unclear on where the center of the five-mile radius was located.
Since Green was unavailable to clarify those and other questions Tuesday, the council decided to table the discussion until it gets more information.
Contact Victor O'Brien at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7468.