To the editor:
Steve Bonkowski’s proposals to save money for island roads are short-sighted. Switching the lawsuit budget to roads is just a gimmick that saves nothing.
But my biggest disagreement is replacing the current policy allowing police officers to drive a police car home at the end of their shift with a car pool check-in, check-out system. This would supposedly save the cost of buying two police cars, but will cost money in the long run.
Currently police officers arrive on the island ready for work, in their police car, in uniform, and with their weapons. They can respond to emergencies without having to check in at headquarters.
This goes away with the proposed policy. It also requires 30 to 45 minutes of uniform changing, weapon securing and car pool check in/out for each officer each day.
Then there are the intangibles.
A fringe benefit of the current drive it home system is that officer’s know their vehicle and can be proactive in scheduling oil changes, tune-ups and maintenance. It’s just human nature to take better care of a car that you have semi-permanently rather than a rental car or the car you just happen to check out of the car pool. Car pool vehicles have notoriously shorter lives. I predict all if not most of the savings of not buying two police cars will be eaten up in extra repairs and having to purchase replacement vehicle more often.
More parking will also be required. Now almost every police car is either on duty or at the officer’s home. With car pool cop cars a parking lot is needed for either the police cars or the officer’s personal cars they drive to work.
But most of all, this policy is a poke in the eye to our police force, as it is taking away a current benefit. The city would be saying you’re not valuable enough or trusted enough to use a city vehicle in off hours.
With all the controversy swirling around the police department and with much of the police force living off-island, the last thing we need is to be creating a disincentive to be a Bainbridge Island cop. We want good officers but don’t seem to want to pay them.
I wish we could go back to the mayor/council form of government rather than the current system where every councilperson thinks they are mayor.