- Associated Press - Saturday, May 21, 2016

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - The Kansas City Police Department is disputing a city audit report that found the department’s vehicle take-home vehicle program recently cost about $1.5 million.

The city auditor’s report calculated that police take-home vehicles were driven 2.5 million miles for commuting and personal use during a recent 12-month period, The Kansas City Star reported (https://bit.ly/1W4knen ).

“Faced with limited resources, the Police Department has to balance competing demands and look for savings opportunities,” city auditor Doug Jones told the City Council’s Neighborhoods and Public Safety Committee Wednesday.

The report also found that as of September 2015, the department had 341 take-home vehicles out of a total of 922 vehicles. The take-home vehicle fleet grew from 37 percent of the fleet to 44 percent between 2011 and 2015.

The police department argued that the overall practice is positive for the community and public safety. It also said the audit calculation was based on the IRS’ standard mileage reimbursement rate of 57 cents per mile, which applies to personal vehicles, and a more appropriate measure would be 18 cents per mile, at an annual cost of about $450,000.

Maj. Karl Oakman, police department liaison to the city, said take-home vehicles have been shown to benefit the community “and every take-home vehicle that we have must be approved by the chief with justification.”

Although the auditor said many of the take-home cars are not marked as police cars, which is needed for community visibility, Oakman also said they are blue Crown Victorias that are recognizable as police cars. He said having them as take-home vehicles also increases their availability in emergencies.

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Information from: The Kansas City Star, https://www.kcstar.com

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