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RomanDad
05-11-2010, 8:43 PM
http://www.occcws.com/?p=907





OCSD Paying Personal Toll Road Fees For Command Personnel?

May 10, 2010 by OCCCWS Editor

Until recently reversed after the policy was about to be revealed, command personnel at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, with Sandra Hutchens’ approval, have, since November of 2008, been eligible to have tolls for the personal, non emergency use of their department issued vehicle paid by Orange County taxpayers.

While other department employees, and every ordinary citizen are responsible for paying tolls when commuting to and from work, OCSD command personnel, in a policy instituted by the Sheriff’s handpicked import from Los Angeles, former Assistant Sheriff Mike Hillmann, (PDF) were to have their commutes considered part of their daily responsibility. To quote from the policy memo (see attached), ‘Your responsibilities include driving this vehicle to and from your residence and to your duty station on a daily basis.’

The memo’s language is so broadly written that tolls incurred by any personal use of the vehicle would appear to be covered. To quote, ‘As command personnel, you are expected to have this vehicle available during off-hours and respond to emergencies 24-7.’ It also mandates that, ‘First responder equipment includes, but is not limited to, Orange County Sheriff-Coroner, Toll Road Transponders allowing access to all areas within Orange County.’

Now the question must be asked: How much have the the taxpayers of Orange County paid so that command personnel can use the toll roads for their daily commute, as well as other personal travels? And have these covered expenses been reported to the Internal Revenue Service as monetary benefits given to OCSD employees above their salary?

Considering Sandra Hutchens’ past history of personal fiscal mismanagement, as documented on this website, we expect to find more instances like this as time goes on.

obeygiant
05-11-2010, 8:50 PM
Another in a long list of reasons to get Hutchens out of office. Thanks for the article romandad.

Rob454
05-11-2010, 9:51 PM
Are you surprised about government officials abusing their power or stretching the rules a bit? LOL bro we're nothing but a big giant ATM to these people

Gray Peterson
05-11-2010, 10:34 PM
So why isn't the OC Weekly reporting on these issues?

anthonyca
05-11-2010, 10:40 PM
So why isn't the OC Weekly reporting on these issues?

Most people don't care about what really matters. They really want to know about her personal life that does not affect them. Sad but true.

crackerman
05-11-2010, 11:30 PM
OUT WITH THE LA MENTALITY! We live in the OC for a reason.

RomanDad
05-12-2010, 6:01 AM
This may just be the tip of the iceberg.... Ive heard there may be another lawsuit out there.... A complaint against the Department has been submitted to the county alleging that a command staff deputy was fired because they complained about possible financial wrongdoing and misappropriation of funds.

Call_me_Tom
05-12-2010, 7:09 AM
I'll play devils advocate.

I don't see anything wrong with paying the toll fees. If they are required to drive this vehicle and required to respond to calls why should they spend their personal money for government actions?

Barabas
05-12-2010, 7:19 AM
Perhaps there should be an exemption for Emergency Personnel not paying toll fees while performing their official duties, but to account for and PAY via transponder is ridiculous. Yet another transfer of money between agencies that will be paid for out of our pockets.

Corbin Dallas
05-12-2010, 7:22 AM
I'll play devils advocate.

I don't see anything wrong with paying the toll fees. If they are required to drive this vehicle and required to respond to calls why should they spend their personal money for government actions?

I have to go with Tom on this one.

IF, an officer is on official duty either patroling their beat or responding to a call I do not feel they should pay for the toll roads out of their personal account.

However, if these people are abusing the system off duty, using the department issued unmarked vehicle or using the transponder from their marked vehicle in their personal vehicle, then by all mean, fry'em.

Doheny
05-12-2010, 7:26 AM
The agency I work for allows people to take cars home if they're assigned one. The regularly use the toll roads going to/from home/work.

Lancear15
05-12-2010, 7:30 AM
I don't see anything wrong with this. Would you prefer our LEO supervisors to be stuck in traffic in their publicly owned cars, likely burning more gas which we pay for, than the toll costs.

tango-52
05-12-2010, 7:35 AM
Please read carefully what RD posted. Command staff who were provided with a county vehicle to use as their personal transportation to and from work (off duty) had their tolls paid at County expense:

"Until recently reversed after the policy was about to be revealed, command personnel at the Orange County Sheriff’s Department, with Sandra Hutchens’ approval, have, since November of 2008, been eligible to have tolls for the personal, non emergency use of their department issued vehicle paid by Orange County taxpayers."

Emergency vehicles responding to emergencies are exempt from paying tolls:


http://www.dmv.ca.gov/pubs/vctop/d11/vc23301_5.htm

Emergency Vehicle Exemption from Tolls
23301.5. (a) An authorized emergency vehicle is exempt from any requirement to pay a toll or other charge on a vehicular crossing, toll highway, or highoccupancy toll (HOT) lane, including the requirements of Section 23301, if all of the following conditions are satisfied:

(1) The authorized emergency vehicle is properly displaying an exempt California license plate, and is properly identified or marked as an authorized emergency vehicle, including, but not limited to, displaying an external surface-mounted red warning light, blue warning light, or both, and displaying public agency identification, including, but not limited to, “Fire Department,” “Sheriff,” or “Police.”

(2) (A) The vehicle is being driven while responding to or returning from an urgent or emergency call, engaged in an urgent or emergency response, or engaging in a fire station coverage assignment directly related to an emergency response.

(B) For purposes of this paragraph, an “urgent” response or call means an incident or circumstance that requires an immediate response to a public safetyrelated incident, but does not warrant the use of emergency warning lights. “Urgent” does not include any personal use, commuting, training, or administrative uses.

(C) Notwithstanding subparagraph (A), an authorized emergency vehicle, when returning from an urgent or emergency call, or from being engaged in an urgent or emergency response, or from engaging in a fire station coverage assignment directly related to an emergency response, shall not be exempt from any requirement to pay a toll or other charge imposed while traveling on a high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane.

(3) The driver of the vehicle determines that the use of the toll facility shall likely improve the availability or response and arrival time of the authorized emergency vehicle and its delivery of essential public safety services.

(b) If the operator of a toll facility elects to send a bill or invoice to the public agency for the use of the toll facility by an authorized emergency vehicle, exempt pursuant to subdivision (a), the fire chief, police chief, county sheriff, head of the public agency, or his or her designee, is authorized to certify in writing that the authorized emergency vehicle was responding to or returning from an emergency call or response and is exempt from the payment of the toll or other charge in accordance with this section. The letter shall be accepted by the toll operator in lieu of payment and is a public document.

(c) An authorized emergency vehicle that does not comply with this section is not exempt from the requirement to pay a toll or other charge on a toll highway, vehicular crossing, or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane. Upon information and belief of the toll operator that an authorized emergency vehicle is not in compliance with this section, the fire chief, police chief, county sheriff, head of the public agency, or his or her designee, upon the written request of the owner or operator of the toll facility, shall provide or otherwise make accessible to the toll operator the dispatch records or log books relevant to the time period when the vehicle was in use on the toll highway, vehicular crossing, or high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane.

(d) Nothing in this section shall prohibit or amend an agreement entered into between the owner or operator of a toll facility and a local emergency service provider that establishes mutually agreed upon terms for the use of the toll facility by the emergency service provider. This section shall not prohibit the owner or operator of a toll facility from having a policy that meets or exceeds this section. If at any time an emergency service provider or the owner or operator of a toll facility opts to terminate an agreement regarding the payment and processing of tolls or other charges, this section shall apply to the emergency service provider and the toll facility. An agreement between an emergency service provider and the owner or operator of a toll facility does not exempt other emergency service providers not named in the original agreement and the toll facility from the requirements of this section when those other emergency service providers use a toll facility in the jurisdiction of the owner or operator of the toll facility.

(e) Sections 23302 and 23302.5 do not apply to authorized emergency vehicles exempt pursuant to this section.

(f) As used in this section, “toll facility” includes a toll road, high-occupancy toll (HOT) lane, toll bridge, toll highway, a vehicular crossing for which payment of a toll or charge is required, or any other toll facility.

Added Sec. 2, Ch. 425, Stats. 2009. Effective January 1, 2010.

Lancear15
05-12-2010, 7:52 AM
Please read carefully what RD posted. Command staff who were provided with required to drive a county vehicle to use as their personal on call 24/7 transportation to and from work (off dutyon call) had their tolls paid at County expense:

^fixed it for you

My B-I-L is the auditor of a major city (that I wont name) he will know if this is a commonly accepted practice or not. My guess is that it is. On call is different than off duty...

Calm Down
05-12-2010, 8:04 AM
Unfortunately, this is nothing new. Many counties, including mine, provide vehicles and fastrak passes to admin. List of admin in my county with vehicles/ fastrak: Sheriff, Undersheriff, Patrol Captain, Jail Captain, Investigations Lieutenant, Investigations Sgt., Patrol Lieutenant, Coroner Lieutenant, Corrections Lieutenant, Public Information Officer (Correctional Officer), Deputy Coroners only while on call, Detectives that live in county( all detectives living outside the county my drop car at outlying P.D. when going home.)

My opinion would be to only provide vehicles to the Sheriff, Investigations Sgt, Detectives (regardless where they live) and Deputy Coroners. The rest are a waist of taxpayer dollars. Considering that patrol deputies recently had to double up in cars to save money, leaving four vehicles for a county that is nearly 1000sq miles; I am at a loss for their logic.

hasserl
05-12-2010, 8:14 AM
^fixed it for you

My B-I-L is the auditor of a major city (that I wont name) he will know if this is a commonly accepted practice or not. My guess is that it is. On call is different than off duty...

That's a stretch. Provided a car is interpreted as "required to drive"? Off duty is On Call? Lot's of people work jobs that are not hourly, they are figuratively always on call. That doesn't mean they have no personal time or are not on personal errands and family travels, or even pursuing other financial pursuits. Expecting the tax payer to pickup the tab for the toll roads is not right. They don't have to pay for them out of their own pocket, they simply don't have to use them. I don't. I've lived in OC since 1960, I've never taken a toll lane or toll road and don't plan on ever doing so. If the standard lanes and roads are not good enough for the officers on their own time, they can pay for the tolls out of their own pocket. If they don't want to fork over the cash, then join the rest of us peons and use the standard lanes/roads.

Call_me_Tom
05-12-2010, 8:22 AM
I have to go with Tom on this one.

IF, an officer is on official duty either patroling their beat or responding to a call I do not feel they should pay for the toll roads out of their personal account.

However, if these people are abusing the system off duty, using the department issued unmarked vehicle or using the transponder from their marked vehicle in their personal vehicle, then by all mean, fry'em.
The below quotes hold the most weight for me. If one is required to drive a vehicle and respond at a moments notice why should they pay for it out of their own pocket. It didn't say that they are authorized to go grocery shopping but to use this vehicle to travel to and from work and to respond to any calls that may arise.

'Your responsibilities include driving this vehicle to and from your residence and to your duty station on a daily basis.’

‘As command personnel, you are expected to have this vehicle available during off-hours and respond to emergencies 24-7.’

PatriotnMore
05-12-2010, 8:43 AM
What is infuriating about the article is when I read it in conjunction with articles like this.
How many ways can I say stupid for the States and LEO to crap on the hard working people who are responsible tax paying members, who already have their financial hands full, and working hard to ensure LE has jobs, the cites functions, and the States have money to operate?


http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Insurance/InsureYourCar/speeding-youll-pay-higher-taxes.aspx?page=1

GuyW
05-12-2010, 9:02 AM
Take-home of police vehicles by employees that live out of town is typical, but an abuse of the taxpayers that must stop.....and the larger the organization, the less that the offered argument(s) in favor are valid....

.

GuyW
05-12-2010, 9:03 AM
The below quotes hold the most weight for me. If one is required to drive a vehicle and respond at a moments notice why should they pay for it out of their own pocket. It didn't say that they are authorized to go grocery shopping but to use this vehicle to travel to and from work and to respond to any calls that may arise.

You know that is just CYA verbiage, right?

....and they can and do use the cars for personal errands....
.

RomanDad
05-12-2010, 10:30 AM
Heres my problem with it.... The VAST majority of times, the transponders are being used for personal reasons. Not the other way around. It seems it would be much easier for the deputies to use their OWN transponders.... And then on the RARE instances where they use them for business uses, get reimbursed by the county for that expense.

RomanDad
05-12-2010, 10:32 AM
The below quotes hold the most weight for me. If one is required to drive a vehicle and respond at a moments notice why should they pay for it out of their own pocket. It didn't say that they are authorized to go grocery shopping but to use this vehicle to travel to and from work and to respond to any calls that may arise.

If they are "expected to respond at a moments notice" they should not be residing out of county and needing to drive over the toll roads from the i.e. to get here.

Call_me_Tom
05-12-2010, 11:32 AM
You know that is just CYA verbiage, right?

....and they can and do use the cars for personal errands....
.What do you consider personal errands? Going grocery shopping is one thing, grabbing some coffee and a donut too or from work is another. Pulling a 10-12 hour shift and then writing reports for another hour or two...I'd think one would rate a coffee and donut.


If they are "expected to respond at a moments notice" they should not be residing out of county and needing to drive over the toll roads from the i.e. to get here.
The 73 is a toll road that is in OC. There are many other toll roads out there. Besides, who business is it to dictate where one lives?

tango-52
05-12-2010, 11:43 AM
If they are in a properly marked vehicle running emergncy warning lights and responding to an urgent or emergency situation, they are specifically exempt from paying the toll. That is in the CA Code. Anything else is just commuting and they should pay their own way. We are not talking about a private business choosing to give perks to its employees. We are talking about government bureaucrats (command staff, remember) who are sucking more money out of your and my pockets.

M. D. Van Norman
05-12-2010, 12:13 PM
If Sheriff Hutchens were an at-will employee, she would have already been fired.

SteveH
05-12-2010, 12:17 PM
Heres my problem with it.... The VAST majority of times, the transponders are being used for personal reasons. Not the other way around. It seems it would be much easier for the deputies to use their OWN transponders.... And then on the RARE instances where they use them for business uses, get reimbursed by the county for that expense.

To me the issue is commuting. In the normal day to day to and from work the county should not be paying the tolls.

Now say an asistant sheriffs gets called at home at 3am and ordered in because of a shooting/wildfire/ect. Yes, taking the toll road and the county paying the pills is acceptable.

But the regular morning and evening commute, no way.

I don't think any of them use their crown vics for personal errand 0on their days off though. They are obviously cop cars and at assistant Sheriffs pay I'm sure they have nicer personal rides.

IGOTDIRT4U
05-12-2010, 12:38 PM
There are also tax implications here. Same as for private sector perks. My employer reimburses me for tolls, but only for business purposes, not for personal use. And I am on call 24/7, too, if you really want to split hairs.

SVT-40
05-12-2010, 2:27 PM
"Take home cars" should be issued on an extremely limited basis. The original information mentioned "Command staff". Probably anyone over the rank of Lt.

I can see why someone, such as a on call detective who would need to respond directly to a incident scene would need a take home car. But everybody else should drive their own cars to and from their duty station.

If there were a need for any member of the "Command staff" to respond to an incident off duty they should drive their own vehicle to their respective station. They could receive a complete and full briefing before picking up a department vehicle and responding to the scene.

Saym14
05-13-2010, 11:56 AM
to me the ABUSE of the taxpayers in take home vehicles all across the state is outrageous and should have taxpayers up in arms (not literally).

Every state agency has take shomes for top people, includes free gass and insurance. State lawmakers get two cars and free gass. almost every agency , police, fire water and power agency has people driving around in taxpayer funded vehicles, with free gas, running personal errends, taking thier kids to school, commutting back and forth all on the back of the tax payers.

steadyrock
05-13-2010, 12:45 PM
This may just be the tip of the iceberg.... Ive heard there may be another lawsuit out there.... A complaint against the Department has been submitted to the county alleging that a command staff deputy was fired because they complained about possible financial wrongdoing and misappropriation of funds.

So much for her S.A.F.E. Bureau doing its job, huh? :rolleyes: