CHAMPAIGN, IL – With the price of fuel nearing $4 a gallon, Champaign, Ill., Sheriff Dan Walsh told patrol deputies this spring that he wanted them to periodically go to a higher police-call area, choose a prominent, preferably shady location, put the vehicle in park, turn off the engine, and sit there for at least an hour a shift, if possible, to reduce the amount of gas deputies were consuming, according to

And apparently it’s working: The sheriff’s office used 5,059 gallons of gas in May, 377 gallons less than in April.

Police chiefs in Urbana and Champaign also say they’re keeping a close eye on gas use, with both departments issuing directives that car idling is to be minimized. Both cities are considering other steps, like purchasing smaller, fuel-efficient patrol cars, or reducing the number of “take-home” vehicles for officers. Deputies also park in areas with heavier traffic flow to slow vehicles down.


Urbana also has purchased three gas-saving hybrids, a Toyota Prius and two Ford Escapes, for parking enforcement. The department is looking at adding squad cars that get better mileage than the vehicle that currently makes up the backbone of the police fleet, the Ford Crown Victoria.


From Jul. 1 through Apr. 15 of this year, Urbana police used 33,312 gallons of fuel. The four-year average for that same period was 35,221 gallons, meaning the department has saved 1,900 gallons so far this fiscal year, according to

Champaign is studying whether to restrict take-home vehicles across the city. Of the department’s 72 vehicles, 37 go home with officers.