Louisville isn’t the only city having trouble with its take-home car program.

In this city and many others, police officers are allowed to use their cars off-duty (at little or no expense to the officers). Proponents of the program say it gives the police more presence in the community. In Louisville, Metro Government has attempted to charge for the cars, but has repeatedly lost legal battles over whether it can impose fees without negotiating with the police union.

We’ve reported that the take-home cars cost Louisville millions of dollars*, but would the city lose more money if it stopped the program?

A study out of Cape Coral, Florida (population 162,852) suggests the city’s (Cape Coral’s, not Louisville’s) take-home police car program saves money. (h/t to NA Confidential)

The cost savings more than outweighs the benefits of requiring officers to return the cars to the police department after shifts end, the Assigned Vehicle Police Evaluation by FGCU’s Southwest Florida Center for Public and Social Policy said. The savings is between $3 million and $12 million.

The study also found that response times to emergencies improved when a take-home policy is used, not only in the Cape department but other departments across the state. More than 75 percent of all Florida law enforcement departments allow their officers to bring cars home, the study said.

Cape Coral’s program and situation is much different than Louisville’s, but it’s interesting to see another city grappling with this issue. In Louisville’s case, there seems to be little arguing over whether the take-home program is effective, but only if the cars count as payment to officers, or are a job perk.

*This story on the cost of the fleet took other city vehicles (like department directors’ cars) into account.

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