CATEGORY: Tupelo Stories
DEPOSIT GUARANTY TO DONATE FOUR CARS TO ODF PROGRAM
By Cynthia M. Jeffries
The Tupelo Police Department’s patrol fleet is going to grow by four next week.
Deposit Guaranty National Bank will donate four cars Monday to the department’s Operation Driving Force program. A presentation will be made at 1:30 p.m. at the bank’s main downtown branch.
With the addition of the cars – three refurbished and one almost-new – the Tupelo Police Department has received a total of eight cars since last year paid for solely through donated dollars.
Tupelo Police Chief Billy White said he is happy about the town’s support of his department.
“The officers will take possession of the cars Monday,” White said.
Operation Driving Force is a program which purchase cars for the department without tax dollars. Corporate and private Tupelo pay for them.
Under the program, the cars are given to officers who live in or near higher-crime neighborhoods within Tupelo. The program, which was initiated by Ward 7 Councilman Danny Barrows, was designed to shorten response time, improve officer’s morale and increase police patrol.
Last year, four 1995 Ford Tauruses were given to officers as take-home cars. The officers use the vehicles on or off duty and as they would their own vehicles.
The officers who received the cars are required to respond to calls whenever they are in the car, whether on duty or not.
City officials were hoping the cars would help decrease crime, especially property crimes like burglary and thefts.
In 1995, the Tupelo Police Department did register a 20 percent decrease in violent crime, but property crime still escalated.
The officers who are given the cars are usually in supervisory positions and do not patrol as much as some of the other officers.
Operation Driving Force was modeled after a similar program used in Memphis and Jacksonville, Fla. Tupelo was the second city in Mississippi to try the program.