Mary Ann Chastain/AP
Newberry, S.C., Policeman Jonathan
Taylor walks his beat down Main Street
in order to save on gas.

Rising Gas Prices Bring Back Community Policing

July 22, 2008 12:14 PM
by Jen O'Neill
Police officers across the country are getting out of their cars to combat rising fuel costs that are putting a strain on department budgets.

30-Second Summary

With the steady increase in gas prices over recent months, and no signs of prices letting up, many police officers are bringing old policing trends back into style.

Buying fuel for police cars is straining department budgets, so some departments are turning to basic transportation methods, such as golf carts, bicycles or walking.

Although coming up with gas-saving techniques might initially seem a burden, police officers and other public agencies also see a bright side: unlike being isolated in an automobile, being on foot or in other, more accessible modes of transportation helps create a sense of community.

Officer Robert Stewart of Suwanee, Ga., now “frequently leaves his squad car, hopping out to visit a bartender, then a barber, then a bank teller who squealed and clapped her hands, demanding to see the latest photograph of his son,” The New York Times reports.

While many officers believe the changes help them to do a better job, there are the downsides, including the loss of take-home police cars. Many say the sight of a police cruiser outside an officer’s home helps deter neighborhood crime.

Still, law enforcement officials nationwide seem upbeat about being on foot more often, at least for now.

Sheriff David Goad of Allegany County, Md. believes that, “The return to old-fashioned police work could be a good thing in some ways, by bringing officers in closer contact with the public.”

Headline Link: ‘As Gas Prices Rise, Police Turn to Foot Patrols’

Related Topics: Law and order on a budget

Background: Fuel prices force local governments to cut costs


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