EASTMAN, GA - The Dodge County Sheriff's Office began using a new fuel fleet management program Jan. 1 that lets employees fill up department vehicles at major gas stations using new gas cards and pin numbers, according to 13wmaz.com.

Unlike their old system, Sheriff Jeff Hinson said he'll now be able to monitor purchases and get discounts on gas. In addition, the county pump station is no longer the only location employees can fill up. Hinson says that meant driving across the county, as many as fifty miles in one trip, just to get a tank of gas.

"It was not efficient at all," Sergeant Tony Riddle said.

Riddle says while transporting prisoners or responding to calls at the outskirts of the county, he sometimes had to pay out of pocket to fill his patrol car with gas.

Though the county reimbursed deputies for the expense, Hinson says that was a burden on his staff. Hinson says he also sees advantages to deputies purchasing gas where everyone else does.

"Most people in town want to come up and talk and some of them tell you their problems," Hinson said, "I think it is a big PR (public relations) tool to be able to meet with the public one on one."

 Hinson says the program only cost the department $20 for the year. He says they have budgeted $63,000 for fuel in this year's budget.

Hinton plans to get the first breakdown of spending at the end of this month, reported 13wmaz.