The San Barbara County (Calif.) Sheriff’s Office’s fuel cost for idling patrol vehicles has exceeded $1.25 million since 2008, according to a Santa Barbara County (Calif.) Grand Jury report released this month. The practice does not conform to the county’s anti-idling established that year.
The Sheriff’s Office says officers leave vehicles idling while unattended because computer systems and mobile audio video system are required to be operational at all times. If computers shut down, it takes three to four minutes to reboot, potentially causing delays in emergency response.
In August 2013, the Department of General Services conducted a study that found unattended, idling patrol cars used $207,000 per year in extra fuel, or 51,149 gallons.
In late March 2014, the Sheriff’s Office began testing a battery monitoring system with an auto-start feature that includes a car alarm and a “secure idle” feature designed to deter vehicle theft. The system monitors the vehicle’s battery and should reduce idling times, according to the report.
Modifying the patrol fleet with this system would cost $36,000. The report also pointed to another possible solution — alternate power sources that would allow electronic devices to be used while the engine is off.
The Grand Jury recommended that the Sheriff’s Office expedite the installation of solutions that will reduce idling.