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05-23-08, 09:47 AM #1
Rising Gas Prices Forcing Some Cops Out of Cars, Onto Feet
NEWBERRY, S.C. — With gasoline climbing toward $4 a gallon, police officers around the country are losing the right to take their patrol cars home and are being forced to double up in cruisers and walk the beat more.
The gas crunch could also put an end to the time-honored way cops leave their engines running when they get out to investigate something.
Some police chiefs think the moneysaving measures are not all bad, and might actually help them do a better job. But they worry about the loss of take-home cars, saying the sight of a cruiser parked in a driveway or out in front of a home deters neighborhood crime.
In Newberry, population 10,000, Chief Jackie Swindler is telling his officers to turn off the ignition whenever they are stopped for more than a minute or so, and to get out and walk around more.
"It's not a rolling office that you stay in all day," Swindler said. "You still need to get out and interact with the public."
Jonathan Taylor, a rookie officer in Newberry, said walking the beat in the region's oppressive summer heat may be a drag, but he added: "We're police officers. It's not supposed to be a comfortable job. If getting out and walking helps me do the best job I can, I'm all for it."
In Grainger County, Tenn., Sheriff James Harville planned for gas prices of $2.22 a gallon when he drew up his budget last year. He has since redrawn the patrol map for the two officers who work each shift, splitting his county in half. He now puts one officer in each half and makes them responsible for all calls in their area.
"That way, unless it's just a life-threatening call, I don't have officers just crisscrossing the county," said Harville, who has asked local officials for an extra $30,000 to keep patrol cars running in the county of 22,000 in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains.
When shifts overlap in Apple Valley, Minn., officers pair up and supervisors send those cruisers to domestic disputes, burglar alarms and other calls that would usually require two officers to respond separately, said Capt. Jon Rechtzigel. Officers also have been asked to turn off their engines whenever possible.
"Years ago, you used to pull in a back lot to investigate something and keep your car running," Rechtzigel said. "You just can't afford to do that anymore."
In the South Carolina town of Elgin, Police Chief Harold Brown delayed hiring a sixth officer so he could use the money for gas. "I guess you could say rising gas prices have cost me a man," said Brown, who found enough money in his budget to bring the new officer on board a few weeks ago.
The Georgia State Patrol has asked troopers to reduce the amount of time spent driving by 25 percent.
In Evansville, Ind., some officers will lose their take-home cars and others will have to pay more for the privilege. Starting Friday, those living within city limits will pay $25 every two weeks and those in the surrounding county will pay $35. Both groups previously paid $10. Eleven workers living outside the county will no longer get take-home police cars.
Proposals to restrict the use of take-home police cars also are on the table in Camden, Del., Avon Park, Fla., and Hagerstown, Md.
"I don't think we should be taking our city cruisers outside of our city," said Hagerstown City Councilwoman Kelly S. Cromer. "With the price of gas right now, I just really think that's a waste."
In Allegany County, Md., Sheriff David Goad told elected officials seeking to limit his department's use of take-home vehicles that "it's a proven fact" that the sight of a patrol car on the road or in a driveway deters crime.
As the fiscal year comes to an end, chiefs and sheriffs are trying to predict how high gas prices will go and craft budgets that won't be blown.
"It's a shot in the dark," Swindler said. "You just have to take your best guess."
Swindler, who joined the force as a patrol officer in 1975 — back when "only people with rank had a car" — said the return to old-fashioned police work could be a good thing in some ways, by bringing officers in closer contact with the public.
The chief is doing his part by riding the department's Segway electric scooter during festivals and other events, and is looking to buy smaller, lighter cruisers.
Newberry officers don't seem to mind. Sgt. Andy Rowe said he has heard no complaints from the officers he oversees as a shift supervisor and doesn't mind walking a little himself.
"I enjoy getting out and interacting with everybody," Rowe said.
How about anyone here? Have any of your departments changed the way you're doing your job?
Oddly enough I remember when it hit $3 a gallon we were told to make sure engines were off if stationary and try to do as much as possible to save gas. Now that we're 3.99 there's been nothing from the admin. Of course we're all making sure engines aren't running unless needed, but no special directives."Like" us on facebook! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Offic...93147194083228
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05-23-08, 02:14 PM #2
Return the horse patrol!! I hate walking and foot chases wouldn't be so bad.
05-23-08, 02:38 PM #3
05-23-08, 04:44 PM #4
That would be TOTALLY kick ass if we could partner up in cars. It would definitely save on gas, plus you wouldn't have the problem of unit 1 showing up at a hot call and unit 2 still trying to get there (or the problem we've had before of unit 1 showing up and unit 2 either taking his sweet-ass time or getting lost...or just saying that he/she is on scene but really isn't). I think our shift would be a lot more productive, as well.
05-23-08, 04:50 PM #5
05-23-08, 04:50 PM #6*************************"It wouldn't take much for me to up and run...to another life somewhere in the sun."*************************"There's something inherently wrong with having to put on a bullet-proof vest and a gun to go to work."-(An old friend)
Any statements or opinions given in my postings or profile do not reflect the opinions, views, policies, and/or procedures of my employer or anyone else other than me. They are my personal opinions or statements only, thereby releasing my employer , any other entity, or any other person of any liability or involvement in anything posted under the username "Cidp24" on O/R.
05-23-08, 06:35 PM #7
Dallas could sure save on gas by hiring more cops, so they can stay in their beats - The four times I rode with them, they were always jumping across beats enroute from one call to another - It was almost nonstop, with no hope of staying in their beats.
Sometimes they couldn't even stay in their districts - For example when I rode in the western district, we had to make a couple of runs down to South Dallas, which would take like 20-30 minutes.
In addition to using a lot of gas, we usually arrived too late to do anything except take a report, even for domestics - Usually the boyfriend or husband left 10 minutes before we got there.
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05-23-08, 08:32 PM #8
Scooters, I think a 150CC Scooter for inner city patrol would save lots of gas!Insert witty comment and disclaimer here.
05-24-08, 12:15 AM #9
We just got our email today, no unnecessary running of the squads, running radar with car running , while at calls, etc..
05-24-08, 05:04 AM #10
we got our email a couple of days ago. oh well, gives me more time to stay in the office and get caught up here.MANNNNN.... YOU MUST BE FAST, BECAUSE I WAS HAULIN ASS WHEN I PASSED YOU!
05-24-08, 09:17 AM #11
We got an email about a month ago asking us not to unneccesarliy idle our cars. We can still idle while running radar, but not while we are in the office or the gas station. That and we were asked to not patrol as much.
"Working should not be a competition to see who can rack up the most miles in one shift" was how it was put.
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05-24-08, 12:25 PM #12
$4 a gallon, oh my !!! you poor devils.
equivalent of about $8 a gallon here now.
Nobody has asked us to change our habits yet, hope they don't introduce mileage restrictions again, cars these days don't have odometer/speedo cables that you reach up behind the dash and pull out, not that I ever did that!the sole advantage of power is that you can do more good.
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05-24-08, 01:24 PM #13
Also, unless you're in New York, Chicago, or Los Angeles you probably don't have mass transit system that's very robust. There are some exceptions, but for the most part city buses are all you have.The views expressed in the above post are the sole opinion of the author and do not reflect any official position by the author's employer and/or municipality.
05-24-08, 02:15 PM #14
I'm seriously looking into a motorcycle.
05-25-08, 12:52 PM #15
05-31-08, 12:58 AM #16
I would like to chime in about take-home cars if I may. Remember, I am just a civilian.
I was trying recently to rent a house. On a few occasions, the prospective renters commented on the two police cars in the immediate vicinity. They liked and appreciated that there was a police presence.
This simple fact, I believe, helped me rent the house faster.
Our town is heavily dotted with take-home cars. I have no problem with the issue and actually am completely for it.If the grass is always greener on the other side, stop pissing on yours.
05-31-08, 01:11 AM #17
I'm in favor of take-home cars too - It is a waste of resources for them to be parked in the back of the PD instead of being visible on the street.
It also makes it much faster to respond to emergency call-outs, assuming they don't have to make a stop at the PD to pick up shotguns, flashlights, portable radios, etc. Seems to me that a take-home car should include take-home equipment.
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05-31-08, 02:48 AM #18
When I lived in the Keys my neighborhood was primarily LEO's. I heard civilians complain constantly about cops getting to take their vehicles home. I used to get pissed off at their narrow minded view on it and I still do. I think measures to cut gas usage is a good idea for now as long as officer and civilian safety is kept in mind
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