LAWRENCE, Ind. — The steep rise in gas prices has everyone feeling the pain at the pump, including local police departments.
“We have seen the increases along with everybody else,” Lawrence Police Chief Gary Woodruff said.
Woodruff said it’s something he’s keeping a close eye on, and like so many right now, the budget is top of his mind.
“Right now we’re within budget,” Woodruff said. “But if the gas prices stay high, we may have to revisit that.”
To push that off as much as he can, the department is leaning on a pandemic-era tactic to try and reduce how much officers need to travel.
“If there are those reports that can be taken over the phone, and the person calling is okay with that, then we try to do that as often as we can,” Woodruff said.
The Cumberland Police Department have taken a similar approach, dating back to COVID-19 policies. The department said it takes reports over the phone for the following crimes:
- Non-injury vehicle crashes that are not blocking a roadway where there is no disturbances between drivers, no driver impairment, and no vehicles that have to be towed
- Lost property (wallet, purse, phone, etc.) excluding firearms or narcotics
- Identity theft with no physical evidence to collect
- Thefts from a publicly accessible space, including shoplifting, and thefts from yards, construction sites, public storage facilities, and detached garages where the perpetrator is not present, the loss is less than $5,000, and there is no recoverable evidence at the scene
- Thefts from vehicles, excluding firearms, where there is no recoverable evidence at the scene
- Vandalism or damage to property where the perpetrator is not present and the loss is less than $5,000
Police in McCordsville said they’ve tried to rely on reporting over the phone as much as they can as well.
“Our officers have been instructed to avoid excessive idling and turn vehicles off when possible,” a department spokesperson said. “However, we have not made any mandates or changed the way we respond to calls.”
The Hendricks County Sheriff’s Office said it’s not changed its responses to call either, but the department will likely have to seek additional fuel appropriations from the county council.
It’s a similar story down in Johnson County, where Sheriff Duane Burgess says it’s business as usual, but he’ll likely have to ask for more money.
“To see where we started out and where it is now, it’s frustrating as an administrator, and it’s frustrating as a taxpayer,” Burgess said.
According to figures provided by Burgess, his fuel costs have risen by 96 cents per gallon in just a matter of weeks.
- May 19, 2022: $3.65 Gal.
- May 26, 2022: $3.90 Gal.
- June 3, 2022: $4.61 Gal.
When he budgeted for the year, it was based on a daily rate of $2.54 per gallon. Despite that steep price increase, Burgess said he wants to make sure taxpayers get what they’re paying for.
“We’re going to do business as normal. We have to do that,” Burgess said. “The people expect a certain service out of the sheriff’s office in this county.”
All the departments we spoke with said regardless of cost, officers will respond to anyone who needs their help.
“If a person calls their police department and they want to see an officer, we’re going to send them an officer to address their concerns,” Chief Woodruff said.