Police chief says efforts being made to conserve fuel

Published 2:35 pm Friday, May 20, 2011

Picayune residents might see something that hasn’t been seen in years here because of the drastic rise in fuel prices: Cops walking a beat.

With the price of gas pushing $4 per gallon, Police Chief Bryan Dawsey told the Picayune City Council on Tuesday that implementation of gas-saving measures recommended by a fuel committee he formed has already saved money for the department, and will change the way the police department patrols Picayune neighborhoods and streets.

He said he formed the committee after City Manager Jim Luke asked department heads to come up with ways to help the city save money on fuel purchases.

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Dawsey told councilmen that by using the recommendations, gas consumption by the police department was cut by more than 100 gallons in one week.

In addition, he said that residents might see more patrols conducted by motorcycle, and even foot patrols, as officers try to use alternative ways to patrol the city to help save on fuel, using the gas-guzzling patrol cars less.

Some of the recommendations that have been implemented, said Dawsey, include: Checking tire inflation more often, making sure cruisers are tuned up at regularly recommended intervals, parking the police cars for at least one hour per day, turning the vehicles off when not occupied by an officer, and performing patrols near business areas on foot by parking the police cars and walking business centers.

“We are using the motorcycle-mounted officers more now and you will see them on the streets more,” said Dawsey. “They do not use as much fuel as a patrol car does.”

He said the department also will do what are called “walk and talks.”

“You will see more officers park their vehicles and walk a beat. You will see more officers on foot,” he told the council.

“When we are not answering calls, our officers are getting out of the cars and walking,” he said. “There will be more building-checks on foot.”

He said that he is looking at “doubling up,” or having two officers per car, rather than just one.

He said a fuel report from May 2 to 8 showed that the department burned up 508 gallons of gas on patrols, while the week before showed 665 gallons had been used, for a savings of 163 gallons in that one week by implementing and using the new recommendations.

Said Dawsey, “We are working hard to try and reduce the amount of fuel that we are using. It does not look like the cost of fuel is going to come down. The last thing we want to do is to park all our cars. But we are doing everything we can to keep the fuel consumption down.”

He told the council that right now, he is still within budget, but that there is no way to know what the fuel costs will actually be when the budget is set.

“However, I don’t see this being a problem,” Dawsey told the council. “That is the reason why we set the committee up. We are coming up with alternative ideas.”