Like most penny-pinched Americans, Sacramento police are looking to save on gas, and that means fewer squad cars patrolling city streets, reports the Sacramento Bee. This week, the city began pairing patrol officers as part of a monthlong experiment in cutting fuel and vehicle maintenance costs. The move means 35 percent to 40 percent cuts in patrol cars out at a given time. Police officials stress the change is not a reduction in force.
“This is simply a trial. It may turn out that the impact on our community and our service is too severe (despite) the cost saving,” police spokesman Sgt. Matt Young said. Some residents and police officers questioned the move, saying less police visibility could have an adverse effect on their communities. Before the trial,20 to 30 percent of patrol officers rode in pairs. Rising gas prices and shrinking budgets prompted officials to expand the model. In the 2006-07 fiscal year, the department spent $1.5 million on fuel. This year, the budget has swelled by 60 percent, to $2.4 million.