High prices at the pump could hamper police patrols - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

High prices at the pump could hamper police patrols

July 27, 2006

Valdosta - The City of Valdosta considers restricting vehicle use if prices climb any higher.  This could cause the police department to put the brakes on some patrols.

After Hurricane Katrina left the City of Valdosta's fuel reserves dangerously low, changes were made to the budget to assure it wouldn't happen again.  "Last year, to drive the same number of city miles for our fleet, cost us 400,000 dollars more to purchase the same amount of fuel," says Valdosta City Manager Larry Hanson.

With prices soaring at the pump, city officials may be forced to impose gas restrictions on city departments and vehicles.  "Even though the city's growing, the numbers of employees are growing, thus the number of vehicles are growing, we're managing our consumption.  The one thing we can't control is the price," Hanson added.

These restrictions could have the police department making changes to be more fuel efficient.  "I could park at a certain area of town, maybe an areas where we've had problems, be stationary there and not drive around and then 20 minutes later move somewhere else.  At the end of the day we're saving gas," said Captain Brian Childress of the Valdosta Police Department.

Although more walking and bike patrols would be implemented, this solution would have officers sitting in these problem areas rather than patrolling.

City officials assure that high prices at the pump won't cost residents as far as public safety is concerned.  Law Enforcement agencies will be the last departments to be affected if a gas restriction is enforced.  "We exist to serve the public, and we would not want citizens not to call needing a service from the city because of a concern about that," Hanson said.

If the police receive a call during a time of restrictions, they will never hesitate to get an officer to the scene as quickly as possible.

City officials are also asking employees to carpool when riding to the same location and are purchasing smaller, more fuel efficient cars. 

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