Police use tactics to curb gas consumption

Douglas M. Kafury

The high price of fuel isn’t just affecting consumers. It is also having an effect on the Kent Police Department, but the department is utilizing methods to curb fuel consumption.

TYPES OF KENT POLICE VEHICLES

• one parking compliance Jeep

• one Chevy Suburban

• several Ford Crown Victoria police cruisers

The police use three different types of vehicles: One parking compliance Jeep, one Chevy Suburban and several Ford Crown Victoria police cruisers. These cruisers are the police interceptor model, said John Osborne, master mechanic at the Vehicle Maintenance Division.

The police cruisers get 16 miles-per-gallon in the city and 32 miles-per-gallon on the highway, Osborne said.

The process of saving money on fuel starts at Kent’s Vehicle Maintenance Division, which serves as the central fueling facility for city vehicles.

Osborne said his main theory when purchasing fuel is to purchase the most volume for the lowest cost. Because he buys the fuel in bulk, he said he saves even more money.

Osborne said he actively pursues three fuel companies and looks at fluctuation in prices. He said, like most regular drivers, he waits until the middle of the week when fuel prices are down to buy.

More fuel-efficient vehicles also help keep gas prices down. Osborne said when the current cruisers need to be upgraded the new cars are more efficient because of the Environmental Protection Agency increasing fuel economy standards.

“You win both times,” Osborne said.

Osborne said one of the ways police are trying to curb fuel consumption is by having regular maintenance done on the vehicles. The best way to keep fuel consumption low is to make sure the oil and filters in the car are good and the tires are inflated.

He said other than those factors and the size of the engine, the other element that factors into fuel consumption is how hard the driver steps on the acceleration peddle.

“How they get there is up to the driver,” Osborne said.

James Peach, Kent Police Department chief, said the police department has taken steps to help reduce fuel consumption. He said the department has cut several officers in recent years, which means fewer cars on the road.

Peach said those cuts haven’t affected the safety of the community.

“Less officers and less cars on the road will affect coverage,” Peach said. “What has not been impacted is our response to emergency calls.”

Peach said he encourages officers not to leave their cars running idle while they are stopped. However, cruisers with K-9 units need to be kept running to ensure a good temperature for the animal, he said.

Another way the department has cut gas costs is the reduction in the use of unmarked police vehicles, Peach said.

Wayne A. Wilson, Ward 3 councilman and chairman of the budget and finance committee, said the city may have to compensate for the increased fuel prices on the budget because they have no choice but to pay the extra money for the fuel.

“The criminals aren’t just going to come down to the police station and turn themselves in,” Wilson said. “We just have to bite the bullet, so to speak, and pay the money.”

Contact public affairs reporter Douglas M. Kafury at [email protected]