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Posted: 4:43 p.m. Monday, March 11, 2013
By Kathryn Burcham
STALLINGS, N.C. —
Town officials in Stallings may strengthen residency requirements for police officers with take-home vehicles after learning it is costing taxpayers thousands of dollars. Monday night, Town Council is expected to vote to change the existing policy, which allows officers to live within a 35-mile radius of Stallings.
Six officers live 15 miles or more away; one lives in Gaston County, another in Cabarrus County. Each drives nearly 70 miles round trip on a work day. Town staff estimate that is costing taxpayers more than $4,000 each year. "I think the discussion is warranted," said councilwoman Shawna Steele. Steele supports limiting the requirement to just 15 miles, which would be similar to other area police departments, including Matthews, Mint Hill and Monroe. "That eventually adds up to a considerable amount of money over a period of time," Steele said. Councilman Fred Weber also told Channel 9 he supports changing the policy. Weber said officials initially set a very broad policy when the department opened its doors in 2003 because they wanted to attract as many qualified job candidates as possible. "I don't think we need that 35-mile envelope anymore. I think we can reduce it," Weber said. Police Chief Minor Plyler declined to comment on the policy until after the council's vote. Residents told Eyewitness News they supported a change, saying when officers live in the same town they work to protect, it deters would-be criminals. "It deters them further away. I agree with it 100 percent," said Lisa Abbott.
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