OTTAWA, ONTARIO – At a time when its fleet spending is under scrutiny, the Ottawa Police Service has joined a federal research project studying idling cruisers, according to the Ottawa Sun newspaper. Led by Natural Resources Canada, the study will help police forces find ways to save money on their vehicles. The program is timely for Ottawa as the city tries to find efficiencies in police costs connected to fleet replacement, fuel, and maintenance.

According to Natural Resources Canada’s Fleet Challenge program, police vehicles have high idling times because of electrical requirements needed to run computers, lights, and radios. Initial studies indicate idling makes up about 50 percent of a police vehicle’s engine time.

Other police forces participating in the study include the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Kingston police, and Montreal police.

Ottawa police plan to review results of the idling study to see if there are cost savings for the force. Since the cost of fuel and equipment has been rising, the study is expected to help police forces trim expenses linked to running their fleets, according to the Ottawa Sun report.

The police force budgeted about $2.4 million for fuel and lubricants for vehicles in 2006, and another $1.9 million was budgeted this year for outside repair work on the fleet. The results of an external audit of the Ottawa police fleet has not been completed.

The fleet expects to replace 55 marked patrol vehicles, 10 unmarked vehicles, and seven motorcycles in 2007. The cost for the replacements is estimated at $2.1 million.

In addition, Ottawa police have been testing out new models of cruisers. The force recently added four Dodge Chargers to a fleet that mainly features Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors.