Higher gas prices are taking a chunk out of the budgets of local law enforcement agencies in Florida who say they have few alternatives when it comes to saving a buck at the gas pump, according to The Gainesville Sun
."We have limited options. The fact is we respond to calls in our police cars," said Gainesville Police spokesman Sgt. Keith Kameg. "The only real option we have is stressing to our officers conservation whenever we can." The Alachua County Sheriff's Office and Gainesville Police have added smaller vehicles to their fleets including some cars with hybrid engines in an effort to cut back on costs. Background investigators, technicians who respond to accidents, and other employees who aren't sworn officers use the smaller cars. But smaller cars that use less fuel won't provide the security, space and power needed for patrol vehicles that must transport prisoners, pursue suspects and power high-tech gadgets, officers said. The Sheriff’s Office could also discontinue a program allowing deputies to take cars home in an effort to reduce fuel costs, according to The Gainesville Sun
.Some law enforcement agencies have ordered cars with V-6 instead of V-8 engines that get better gas mileage, said James Kenyon, a spokesman out of Michigan for DaimlerChrysler Dodge. The company is now offering a Dodge Charger police vehicle with an engine that switches between a V-8 and V-4 depending on its speed. The Sheriff's Office has four of the cars with the multi-displacement engine and is testing how they work on the road, but switching over the entire fleet would not be immediately cost effective.Meanwhile, what the agencies spend on gasoline keeps rising. Gainesville Police estimate they'll be spending $200,000 more than the $400,000 budgeted for gasoline this fiscal year. Kameg said the police department implements a spending freeze every year to keep costs within or close to budget. Gasoline costs forced this year's freeze by May, earlier than normal.