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Gas prices cracking down on Highway Patrol operations

Posted July 10, 2008
Updated July 11, 2008

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— A budget that does not meet the cost of the fuel filling up state Highway Patrol cars means troopers will be putting the brakes on targeted crackdowns in the new fiscal year.

The 1,820 troopers burn around 3.4 million gallons of gas driving more than 50 million miles around the state each year. Over the past two fiscal years, the cost of that gas has climbed from $6.5 million to around $9 million.

However,  with the cost of a gallon of regular unleaded averaging over $4 in the state, legislators included $5.2 million for troopers' fuel costs in the new budget.

"It really ties our hands, because we want to do what we can to reduce crashes," said Lt. Everett Clendenin, spokesman for the Highway Patrol. "We want to do what we can to get these overweight trucks off the highways."

Daily patrols will not be affected for now, but the Highway Patrol will have to cut enforcement programs, such as those targeted at overweight trucks or drunk drivers, Clendenin said.

"One of the methods that have been very successful for us are the crackdowns," Clendenin said. "Now, we're having to cut these out, because we don't have the funding."

On the chopping block are operations like the Booze It & Loose It, which resulted in nearly 2,000 charges around the Fourth of July, and Operation Slowdown, a coordinated speeding crackdown in November 2007.

In other fuel-saving efforts, troopers have been instructed to idle their cars less and carpool to training exercises and ceremonies. The Highway Patrol will also cut back on equipment purchases.

Sen. Don East, R-Surry County, approved of those conservation measures, but said troopers need fuel in their tanks.

"They're not effective if they can't move around," East said. "We've got to provide for them."

Budget writers argued that the Highway Patrol, like other state agencies, needs to find ways stretch its fuel dollars.

"Perhaps the Highway Patrol won't be able to do some of the special projects, and I know it's a struggle for them," Sen. Linda Garrou, D-Forsyth County, said. "We need them to be on the highway to protect our citizens, but for the time being, we've got to be good stewards."

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  • dont bother me Jul 11, 2008

    Let me make the take home car thing clear. I am cop, my department only has take home cars for those outside of the patrol divison. Having once had a take home car, I can say that my car was well taken care of and was not driven 24/7 as the line cars are. So the arguement againist take homes makes no sense. Think about you drive your car home when you are off the car is no driven. This save gas and wear and tear. If the car is ran 24/7 then it will b filled up with gas at least twice in 24hrs. You can not tell me that saves gas. Plus it is not in the shop getting repairs. Yes we have to pay for that too. My car was never in the shop for repairs and I got gas maybe twice a week. DO THE MATH. That is all for now!!

  • fkhaywood Jul 11, 2008

    I had a professor at NC State, when I was a student there in the 1960's, while conducting a seminar, he made a comment that is still valid today; "All generalizations are false, including this one!" If you don't know the specifics, con't generalize.

  • RonnieR Jul 11, 2008

    Some patrolmen are nearly an hour's drive from the area they work to their DO, some longer some less. That means they be traveling to and from
    their area for about 20% of their shift. Also, there would be no one there to handle calls for that time. I don't think that
    is too efficient. No reason to change a system that works!

  • WRALSUCKS Jul 11, 2008

    "The Troopers and others take the cars home because the cars are better taken care of,"

    Ah, so the police feel free to abuse public property unless they get to use the vehicle as their own? Wow.

  • RonnieR Jul 11, 2008

    Obviously, you don't have a clue, RKBA, so you'll just have to live in your own reality.

  • WRALSUCKS Jul 11, 2008

    Well, since the shifts usually overlap, you'd still need almost the same number of cars.

    Easily managed. Particularly if all come and go from the same location.

  • delilahk2000 Jul 11, 2008

    Well,Raleigh this is the price you pay for all the growth.Raleigh is big enough as it is, and now, not enough funds for the patrol cars to have fuel. Boy,is this going to be open season for crime. I say it is time to stop some of the growth and focus on more important thing like this problem and other things that is just going to get worse. So much of the tax money is being spent on stupid things that are not NEEDED.

  • 10-41 Jul 11, 2008

    RKBA,

    If a Trooper has to start workong in their driveway then they walked to work. As soon as they sit in their patrol car and turn it on, they are working. They do not drive anywhere to check in for duty. They call in over the radio to a dispatcher and check on duty. They are responsible for assisting motorists, writing traffic citations, and doing wrecks until they get back in their driveway and check off duty. Troopers get calls or have to make stops right before they pull into their driveway at night all the time.

    You are entitled to your opinion, but it has been proven to save agencies money by allowing the take home cars. I would be more worried with the white state owned cars I see parked infront of malls, grocery stores and shopping centers (especially on the weekend) Not to mention all the other misuse of state property.

    I will have to agree that the SHP working downtown in admin. positions do not need take home marked cars.

  • RonnieR Jul 11, 2008

    Well, since the shifts usually overlap, you'd still need almost the same number of cars. The day shift is usually out for a couple of hours or so after the evening shift comes on. Then the afternoon shift is on call for four hours and the morning shift on call for the next four hours. In bigger counties, such as Wake there is often one overnight car out.

  • WRALSUCKS Jul 11, 2008

    "rkba, what you're missing is when they get in the car they are at work. "

    OK...and that's why many places of work are used by more than one shift per day, to maximize the capital investment of that resource. Having it sit in a personal garage prevents that.

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