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Cost-Effectiveness and Officer Morale of a Personally Assigned Vehicle Patrol Program: A Comparative Analysis

NCJ Number
Policing Volume: 20 Issue: 4 Dated: 1997 Pages: 749-765
S X Zhang; T D Benson
Date Published
17 pages
Quantitative analysis of police patrol vehicles in San Diego and Escondido County, California, revealed that police pool cars cost far more than personally assigned police cars in terms of both parts and mechanic labor.
While vehicles under both management plans received equally adequate preventive maintenance, police pool cars were significantly more likely to experience breakdowns, thus requiring more frequent shop visits per mile than personally assigned police cars. The most significant differences between the two management plans were in the areas of engine, drive train, and electrical repairs, even when police car models, mileage, and years in service were considered. Interviews with police officers clearly indicated police pool cars did not receive proper care. Police officers acknowledged the lack of obligation to keep up shared vehicles. With few exceptions, police pool car deputies admitted they did not check under the hood as often as they should. Interviews also revealed many unintended benefits of assigning police cars to individual police officers, such as increased morale, faster police response, and enhanced visibility in the community. Additional research is recommended to assess costs and benefits of personally assigned police vehicles and to explore social-psychological benefits to police officers of working in a well-maintained car. 8 references, 5 notes, and 4 tables