The San Bernardino City Council on Monday will consider a proposal to create an in-house, city tow yard essentially to raise more money from police impounds. The idea has at least one critic comparing the idea to the city of Bell's own policy of allegedly encourage police to impound vehicles for the municipality's financial gain.
“It was suggested that the police go into the towing business, similar to what [the Weekly] was talking about,” San Bernardino Chamber of Commerce CEO Judi Penman told LA Weekly. “The whole thing just smells.”
The Weekly reported last week that Bell police, under disgraced former city manager Robert Rizzo, were told to increase the number of money-making impounds they made or face the layoffs of four officers in the small department.
While San Bernardino's proposal isn't as crass — or potentially illicit — it has raised concerns that police would be rewarded for impounding vehicles.
According to the San Bernardino Sun:
The city cannot legally profit from impound fees but could use the dollars to offset police expenses related to vehicle tows. The yard would net about $426,000 during its first six months of operation, according to estimates …
Penman of the chamber is concerned that such a deal would turn off customers of San Bernardino businesses: They might be too afraid to venture out if they know that police are licking their chops, looking for potential impounds.
“How much more can you take,” says Penman. “If government can keep raping businesses there won't be businesses left. It's frustrating.”