It's a common practice to use old, gutted patrol cars as mechanical scarecrows, according to San Jose Police Department spokesman Officer Albert Morales. But police are pretty miffed that they weren't notified about a plan to park a defunct cruiser near the San Jose Repertory Theater for about a week.
The goal was to ward off vandals from the shuttered venue, but reports suggest the car could have been easily stolen. NBC Bay Area first reported the story Monday.
Apparently, the city's public works department plucked the decommissioned cruiser and stationed it on Third Street, next to the theater after it closed earlier this summer due to bankruptcy. Police were upset about the move, particularly since an extra key was left inside the entire time.
"There was a key hidden inside, but it was placed in a location that police would know where to look, but the rest of us would not," city spokesman Dave Vossbrink told San Jose Inside.
Public Works Director Dave Sykes accepted responsibility for his staff, which made the decision without consulting police. "It was a teachable moment, but no one was 'written up,'" Vossbrink said.
Part of the misstep may have occured because the city has brought on so many new hires, he added.
"We have a number of people who are new to their positions and that may have led to some miscommunication," Vossbrink said. "Everyone agrees that coordination should have happened, that it should have happened better. It does reinforce the importance of asking the right questions. ... They’re aware of the fact that it was a mistake and will be mindful of that going forward."
The idea for the decoy cruiser came from a meeting the public works department held shortly after the theater's closure in June. People were pitching ideas like hiring private security, brightening lights in the area and making sure the building stays locked up to keep it safe and secure.
"One of those ideas out of that conversation was to have an old police car outside," Vossbrink said. "We want to keep the building safe until we find a new tenant."