MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Thirty new marked Memphis Police patrol vehicles will be driven home by officers soon as part of a new take-home vehicle program announced Friday.
The new patrol vehicles will be assigned to MPD officers who reside in certain zip codes in the city limits. They will not only drive them while on duty but to and from work.
“These marked patrol cars will be parked throughout Memphis neighborhoods, strengthening our visibility and serving as a deterrent to crime,” Police Chief CJ Davis said.
The city allocated $1 million for the new vehicles, and Davis said she hopes these 30 are just the first wave, with more to come.
“Just bringing back that respect and connectivity to the community is one thing that we are all excited about,” said Councilwoman Rhonda Logan. “We’re grateful to be able to do this, and this is a new beginning and we are very excited about it.”
The vehicles are a morale booster for officers, and an additional incentive for officers to live in the city limits, Davis said.
Studies show take-home vehicles reduce maintenance costs for police departments, she said. Although a few specialized MPD units have been able to take police vehicles home for certain assignments, Davis said this is the first time officers would formally be allowed to take home their vehicles.
In addition to the cruisers, two SUVs sport new logos and branding designed by an officer at the Austin Peay station. He will be one of the first officers to receive a take-home vehicle. In time, the new logo will be used on all MPD vehicles, Davis said.
An officer created the design through a video game.
“I did it for fun, but actually seeing it knowing that Chief Davis called it my legacy, that is something that is incredibly fantastic to think about,” Officer Ian Tierney said.
In order to be accepted into the take-home program, MPD says officers had to meet certain criteria such as being a tenured employee, living in Memphis, not having any disciplinary problems along with not having a history of wrecking vehicles.
This year, Memphis Police have been involved in more than 360 accidents and responsible for one-third of them, which the chief acknowledged during the announcement.
“I’ve talked to each of these officers personally, and my conversation with them was basically ‘I want you to take care of this car. This is your vehicle,'” Davis said. “We want to change that narrative as far as how many accidents we have.”