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Police departments forced to change operations due to gas prices

Police bicycle
Posted at 5:09 PM, Jun 28, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-29 13:06:46-04

INDIANA — Part of your taxpayer dollars go toward police budgets, things like filling up the tanks of patrol cars.

But with gas as high as it is right now, how is it impacting police working to serve you?

Some agencies are tweaking their operations to cut back on the amount of gas they're using.

"Right now we're about a month short on our budget to be able to fuel our cars for 12 months," Tom Vaughn the Southport Police Chief said. "That money has to come from somewhere, so what do we not buy to make sure we have fuel."

Vaughn says their budget is set every May, so it is hard to guess what gas prices are going to do.

In response, the Southport Police Department has cut the number of cars they have on the streets.

They went from one officer in a patrol car to two.

He says it doesn't compromise the officers' safety, adding that it helps with backup already being on the scene of an incident.

SPD is also increasing foot and bike patrol.

"[We have] One car out, [to] 4 bicycles, something like that to try and cut down," Vaughn said.

Vaughn is also asking officers to limit how much they are idling.

The Greenwood Police Department is doing the same.

Assistant Police Chief Matthew Fillenwarth said, sometimes letting the car run is vital.

"What people don't also understand is even if it's not a K-9 when it gets too hot in those cars, it does things to the electronics," Fillenwarth said. "The laptop stops working, that's how you get all your runs on."

Fillenwarth said his officers have restrictions on their cars, they have to live in Johnson County or the surrounding counties. This limits the distance they're driving.

They also restrict their off-duty miles.

"As long as the gas prices really don't get too much more ridiculous then we shouldn't have to add any new restrictions that what we've already had well before this," Fillenwarth said.

Both Greenwood and Southport police departments said regardless of the price of gas, their officers will be responding as they always have.

"We're going to continue to do our job. We will cut where we need to cut, there are some things that we won't be able to get this year and that's fine but they will get the same service that they always get no matter what we'll make sure of it," Vaughn said.

"They will always go to their calls, they will always respond. It doesn't matter if gas is $10 a gallon," Fillenwarth said.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department's cars are managed by the Indiana Department of Public Works. They tell us there are 5,000 different vehicles in their fleet.

DPW says their operations haven't changed. They're asking their drivers to be as efficient as possible.

They also encourage them to use one of their 12 re-fueling sites, because they get gas 10-15 cents cheaper there for buying in bulk.