12 Investigates: RPD uses cars as morale booster - NBC12 - WWBT - Richmond, VA News On Your Side

12 Investigates: RPD uses tricked-out cars as morale booster

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) -

Uncertainty is everywhere for Richmond Police officers right now. There's no word yet on how much longer their chief will be in charge or if they'll see raises in their paychecks. But, those leading the department are looking to keep spirits up by making sure there's something to look forward to.

Those higher-ups are getting creative in their motivation and morale boosting techniques.

Richmonders will now see tricked-out police vehicles riding around their neighborhoods. But, they are not the norm. They're the new reward for the people chosen as officer of the month and sergeant of the quarter in the Richmond Police Department. The honors are no longer just titles. This is the first time the department is using this kind of incentive.

The Chevy Camaro went to Officer of the Month Gene Carter.

"The cars are amazing," he said. "It's going to be nice now to be the guy on the block with the best car to beat out the dealers."

It's not just a perk or something to show off, says Sgt. Michael Pullen, who got the Mustang. It also serves as motivation.

"You're being recognized for the jobs that you do," he explained. "It inspires the officers also and inspires the supervisors as well, you know, just to do better."

We've learned the outfitted Mustang cost the department just over $28,000 and the tricked-out Camaro totaled more than $30,000.

Given the tight budget times, NBC12 asked those in charge if this is the best use of taxpayer dollars or if that money would be better spent on a raise or bonus for all of the officers in the department, who have gone so long without either.

"You look at the dollar amount, it's very minimal," Deputy Chief Eric English maintained. "It would hardly have any impact on what they would see in a paycheck."

The math of that $60,000 split more than seven hundred ways, seems to make sense to the rank and file.

"That money would be spread thin," Officer Carter added. "I think this has a greater impact on this department and the symbol it'll provide for the community more than that money could have done spread thin."

NBC12 did some more digging and learned the average 2012 police cruiser costs just over $30,000 to purchase and outfit. That's only about $500 less than the Camaro. The Mustang is actually cheaper than both.

Copyright 2013 WWBT NBC12.  All rights reserved.

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