Gas Prices Won't Hamper Local Law Enforcement

May 1, 2006--Posted at 5:00 p.m. CST

CRAIGHEAD COUNTY, AR-- The Memphis Police Department is starting to feel the sting of the recent hike in gas prices. MPD is already $1.2 million over its gasoline budget for 2006. As a means to conserve gas and save money officers there are encouraged to walk instead of drive whenever possible. However, Region 8 law enforcement agencies were prepared for the increase.

"It gets expensive $40-$50 for a tank of gas.  It adds up in a hurry," said Craighead County Sheriff Jack McCann.

Now multiply that times the 30 plus cars in the fleet for the Craighead County Sheriff's Department and you have a fuel bill that is on the rise.

"We anticipated the gas being an issue, so we increased our fuel budget by $25,000," said McCann.

The Jonesboro Police Department included an extra 10-20 %in their budget to cover what they felt was an impending rise in fuel costs.

"The citizens need to know we are still out there and we're still on patrol, still getting calls>  We are on track with our gas budget," said Sgt. Steve McDaniel of the Jonesboro Police Department.

Analysts are predicting gas should continue to surge into the summer when gas consumption is at its highest, as officers are forced to use their air conditioning.

"If it goes over $3 we may have to take some steps to reduce usage," said McCann.

One of the proposed solutions to the gas crunch is to leave the cars parked in the parking lot and have more foot patrol, but according to the police department that is even less of an economical idea.

"It takes more manpower to cover that area on foot. If you are in a vehicle and you are mobile, you can cover a larger geographic area with a smaller amount of manpower," said McDaniel.

But for now, area police and sheriff departments will continue with business as usual. We talked to six area police departments and two sheriff's departments, none of which anticipated having to cut services.