Police officers to pay for taking patrol cars home

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IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - In a push to save on fuel expenses and avoid a public relations black eye, the Idaho Falls police chief plans to have officers who live outside the city limits and drive their patrol cars to and from work start paying a mileage fee.
Police Chief Steve Roos estimated the move will save the department about $10,000 annually.
"There's the whole gas issue, and what offends

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (AP) - In a push to save on fuel expenses and avoid a public relations black eye, the Idaho Falls police chief plans to have officers who live outside the city limits and drive their patrol cars to and from work start paying a mileage fee.

Police Chief Steve Roos estimated the move will save the department about $10,000 annually.

"There's the whole gas issue, and what offends most people is when they see an Idaho Falls police vehicle outside the city limits," Roos said.

City officials had asked department heads to come up with ways to save on gas. The police department uses about 5,000 gallons of fuel a month, which at $4 per gallon adds up to $240,000 annually.

Idaho Falls Councilman Tom Hally said he likes Roos' plan because it keeps in place a system that allows off-duty officers to respond quickly while also addressing one of the most frequent complaints he and other city officials get, which is residents calling about police cars outside the city limits.

"I'm not against using cars in the community," Hally told the Post Register. "But having cars in Rigby, Ririe and other communities doesn't benefit the citizens of Idaho Falls who are paying the cost."

Roos said the new policy will go into effect Oct. 1.

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Under the policy, those officers who live outside city limits and take their patrol vehicles home will pay a monthly fee of $3.71 per mile for each mile outside the city boundary they live.

The maximum distance under the program is 12 miles. An officer living at the 12-mile limit, then, would pay $44.52 per month to be able to drive the vehicle to and from work.

Brad Landes, president of the local Fraternal Order of Police lodge, which represents nearly all of the Idaho Falls officers, said the new policy is reasonable.

Roos said there are 22 officers who live outside the city, but it was unclear how many would continue to drive their vehicles home.

Officers also have the option of using their patrol vehicle for personal use, such as going to the grocery store, with the restriction that the trips are only made in Idaho Falls. Officers pay $25 per month for that option.

Roos said the only officers who have the option of taking a patrol vehicle home and on errands are those who can respond to emergencies.

"Basically, people who have a gun," he said. "People in the neighborhood love it because of that presence."

He said in the last two incidents the first officers to arrive on the scene were off-duty officers.

Roos said the department has instituted other moneysaving measures with fuel, such as having a no idling policy for patrol cars when officers are at a call, except for canine officers with dogs in the vehicle.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. The information contained in the AP news report may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press. Active hyperlinks have been inserted by AOL.

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