Sheriff Donald F Eslinger
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An Expensive Perk: Take Home Cars for Deputies

The Free Ride

The idea of providing “take home” police vehicles looks good on paper: A Police presence in neighborhoods, able to revert to an on duty status in the event of emergency, a community based policing feel. A noble idea, however it all comes with a price, a price paid for with your tax dollars.

The old saying "Nothing manages itself" comes to mind. The Honor System of following the Sheriff’s Policy governing the use of these vehicles is repeatedly violated. But with no accountability, with no checks and balances, WE get to pay for the misuse and abuse.

If the Seminole County Sheriff’s Department wants to provide take home cars to Deputies then they should be better stewards of our tax dollars. There should be daily mileage logs, fuel logs and toll charges reports for each vehicle, which are audited regularly to prevent abuse. Accountability should be enforced and more than a slap on the wrist should be applied to Deputies who violate the policy. Of course all this would not be necessary if integrity was applied by the officers who are assigned take home vehicles.

The take home police vehicle is a benefit not only to the community, but a perk to the Deputy as well. Not many of us have the luxury of a free vehicle, gas, insurance and maintenance provided by our employers. In the private sector there are strict insurance regulations on take home vehicles. Many Insurance carriers no longer allow for the company vehicle to be a take home vehicle, and if so permitted it comes at a greater insured rate. In the private sector if the personal use of a company vehicle is allowed it is to be added as compensation to the employee.

A Public Records request was sent to the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office to determine how many vehicles the Sheriff’s department has in its fleet. (1) They were unable to fulfill the request. (2)

A second request for the vehicle fleet count was sent where we gave clear verbiage on what information we were asking for, because either they didn’t understand the request or the Seminole County Sheriff’s Office has no count on the vehicle inventory. (3) No response results at the time of this article. We would send over another request, asking out of the total number of the Seminole County Sheriff’s Fleet vehicles how many are take home vehicles, but we seriously doubt they would honor that request either. What better way to impede our knowledge. Not to mention violating the spirit of the State of Florida Public Records Act, Chapter 119, Florida Statutes.

Please note, we were in no way asking for a detailed spreadsheet or any identifiers to the vehicles, we understand that for security/undercover purposes and for officer safety that information should be protected. We were asking FOR A TOTAL NUMBER.

Misuse & Abuse: Just one example:

Why should WE be paying for a Deputy to run his personal errands and leisure outings on our dime? Why should we provide a vehicle for a Deputy to drive to a game or sporting event off duty? The photos provided are from April 3, 2013. The unmarked police vehicle assigned to Lt Dwayne Johnson is parked at Oviedo High School.

Lt Johnson was not working, he was not there in an official capacity, but was there for pleasure to view a sporting event. To add insult, Lt Johnson doesn’t see it necessary to find a marked parking space, he decides to park his police vehicle in front of the dumpsters, where it is clearly marked DO NOT PARK.


SCSO VehicleEslinger Unmarked Car
Eslinger unmarked vehicle

Again on April 8th, 2013 Lt Johnson drove his police issued take home vehicle to again enjoy a sporting event at Oviedo High School. Lt Johnson was not on duty, not working and again there for pleasure. This time he did manage to find a parking space. Although it was observed that between games he had the luxury of sitting in his vehicle, engine running with the air conditioning on.


Lt. Johnson Vehicle

Do you have money to burn?

So what happens when a Deputy, off duty, on personal business, driving a police issued vehicle, gets into an accident? No problem, the taxpayers will pay.

So what happens when a Deputy allows civilians or family members to ride in the police issued vehicle when he is off duty and something bad happens? No problem, the taxpayers will pay.

Who pays for the fuel to run these personal errands and leisure outings? No problem, the taxpayers will pay.

Who pays for the wear and tear? These cars will rack up a lot of miles being driven for work and pleasure. No problem, the taxpayers will pay.

Recently Seminole County property owners just had the yearly bite of paying our property taxes. A good portion of those funds goes to our Sheriff’s Department Budget. Public Servants work FOR us. We are their employers; we are the money behind their paychecks, we fund their programs. WE should demand transparency, accountability and better financial oversight from our Public Servants.

For those of you that are unaware The Seminole County Sheriff’s Budget is put before our Seminole County Commissioners each year. The Commissioners can accept the Sheriff’s proposed budget, raise or lower the budget at that time.

Perhaps it is time we let our voices be heard and quit writing blank checks for our Public Servants to abuse and misuse our tax dollars. The Free Ride, it’s paid for by You!


Lt. Dwayne Johnson wasting taxpayer money again on Aug 18, 2014

Lt. Dwayne Johnson SCSOLt Dwayne Johnson SCSO
Lt. Dwayne Johnson

Lt Dwayne Johnson video

CLICK ON BELOW DOCUMENTS:

  1. 1st Public records request April 4, 2013
  2. Reply from Custodian of Records , Christ Peters to 1st public records request
  3. 2nd Public records request dated April 8, 2013
  4. Seminole County Commissioners contact information

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing"
-Edmund Burke