ALLEGAN, Mich. — The average price for gas in West Michigan is around $5.19, and even law enforcement agencies are feeling pain at the pump.
Police have to drive in order to patrol the community, and one agency in West Michigan is implementing some new strategies to reduce their gas use.
The Allegan County Sheriff's Office road patrol deputies run on average 750,000 miles per year.
With gas prices hitting a record of more than five dollars a gallon, it's a pain that's greatly felt.
"We're having officers take a proactive approach to not having the cars idle or if they can shut the vehicles off or if they don't need to make an unnecessary trips, administrative type things. We try to combine them and do it in all one trip," said Lt. Bretton Ensfield, Road Patrol Supervisor.
Since gas prices started to climb a few months ago, the Sheriff's Office started 'triaging' minor and non-priority complaints.
"Instead of having a deputy drive 20 miles to go take that complaint, the complaint may have to wait 10 to 15 minutes or so to have the closer car take the complaint, rather than have someone else driving to take the complaint."
Deputies may even take those calls over the phone if there's no safety issue or evidence collection needed.
Kent, Ottawa and Mecosta County Sheriff's Offices haven't made any changes to their response protocols yet, but they continue to monitor the situation.
According to Lt. Michelle Robinson, gas prices have not caused Michigan State Police to make operational changes yet.
However, the agency was notified on June 1 that the Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget and Vehicle and Travel Services has implemented a rate increase beginning July 1 for state department’s vehicle fleets due to the rising cost of gas.
The overall impact to their budget from this cost increase is just under $2.8 million.
The agency has requested a supplemental appropriation from the legislature to cover this increased cost.
Lt. Ensfield wants to emphasize the Allegan County Sheriff's Office is not reducing patrols or responses to serious calls.
"We just want the public to know that need be, we're gonna respond. We're not going to put the public at risk for fuel savings and so forth."
If other agencies need to make adjustments in the future, they say it will be designed in a way that safety and the well-being of the public will not be impacted.
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