With gasoline prices edging up toward last year’s highs, police departments are feeling the pinch, too, but their public safety mandate means their gas-saving options are limited, says the Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal. “The rising gas prices, aside from making us divert more money into our gas budget, have not reduced our areas of patrol,” said Kingston police Chief Gerald Keller. “It’s not like you can slack off on those duties.” Kingston has budgeted $55,000 for gas expenses in 2006, two-thirds more than it spent in 2004.
New York State Police spent $6.4 million on fuel in 2004, and predict they’ll spend about $12.8 million by the end of this year. In some cities, politicians have ordered patrol officers to cut off their engines when directing traffic or making stops, and some departments have doubled up officers in patrol cars. With the technology crammed into today’s police cars, cutting off engines and deactivating systems would likely just cause headaches. Bill Galbraith, fleet manager at the Town of Poughkeepsie’s central garage, checked off a list – digital video camera systems, multiple radios, laptop computers, modems, light systems, sirens and other components – and said if an officer kept a patrol car with its engine off and systems on during traffic duty, with a new battery, it might last an hour. “It would kill the car very quickly,” he said. Fishkill Chief Donald Williams said during non-emergency situations, such as when cruisers are parked in front of homes, as officers check on residents inside, he’s asking them to turn off the engines. “A lot of them like to keep it running, but we’re trying to stop that,” he said.