Government Fleet Top News

Police Patrols Cut to Save Gas; But Officials Warn of Risk to Public Safety

June 18, 2008

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rising gas prices are prompting some police departments to curb their cruisers for parts of their daily shifts and walk the beat instead, according to www.lexisnexis.com.

Others are cutting back on a popular program that allows officers to take their vehicles home to boost police presence in neighborhoods.

Among new policies beginning are:

· The Georgia Department of Public Safety is encouraging its 770 state troopers to reduce patrol time. Mileage reductions have ranged from 15 percent to 25 percent per month since January. In place of some patrols, troopers are conducting more radar surveillance or employing stationary checkpoints.

· In Fairfield County, Ohio, Sheriff Dave Phalen has dispatched a deputy in a golf cart to patrol one local community. Another golf cart is on the way, and he has ordered all deputies to shut down their patrol cars for 15 minutes every hour to walk the beat.

· In Anne Arundel County, Md., the sheriff’s department has recalled 13 of the agency’s 38 cruisers designated as take-home patrol vehicles. Officers assigned to those cars now must drive from their homes to headquarters to pick them up.

Officials from at least 30 law enforcement agencies met with U.S. Rep. Kevin Brady, R–Texas, recently to say rising fuel costs could compromise public safety. Brady said some departments are cutting patrols by using two officers per car instead of one.

However, the Houston Police Department is spending millions of dollars to cover additional fuel costs. It has budgeted $8.6 million for fuel through the current fiscal year, which ends this month. Next year, those costs are expected to top $11 million, according to www.lexisnexis.com.

To control costs, two percent of the department’s unmarked fleet — about 50 cars — is being converted to hybrid vehicles. The city also is considering expanding foot and bicycle patrols in the city — strategies that come with different costs.

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