Off-duty police could take cars farther under proposed change

Columbus Police Chief Jon Rohde wants to loosen rules on how off-duty officers can use their police cars. That is part of a plan to make Columbus more appealing for recruiting and retaining officers.

He is proposing a change to the city ordinance that dictates how, when and where city-owned vehicles can be used. These changes include allowing marked and unmarked vehicles to be driven for personal use beyond Bartholomew and the contiguous counties at the discretion of the police chief or deputy chief.

In addition to making CPD more attractive to potential officers, Rohde says this change will also help to increase the department’s visibility throughout the community and allow for rapid response in emergencies.

City Council gave its initial approval to the ordinance change this week. A second reading is tentatively scheduled for the next council meeting on July 17th.

Rohde has been continuing his efforts to attract and retain quality officers for his department. The chief was an enthusiastic supporter of a recently completed salary study that helped determine how the city compensated its employees. That study showed a number of positions, including those in the public safety arena, were paid less than the average of eight “peer” cities across Indiana. Recent action taken by the Columbus City Council will address the compensation issue and close the pay gap for police and firefighters over the next two years.