Opinion

It’s all about keeping the public’s trust

It’s not uncommon to see a police car sitting by the roadside, idling with an officer inside the car.

Maybe the office is running a speed trap, looking for drivers who are breaking the law. Or maybe the officer is waiting for a call from dispatch.

It would be prudent for all of us not to jump to conclusions. But having said that, the City of Bremerton needs to get a handle on its fuel usage. In particular, the Bremerton Police Department needs to watch what they spend on gasoline.

Recently, we reported that the Bremerton Police Department spend $192,014 on fuel last year, a considerably higher amount than most police agencies allocate on a per vehicle basis.

That followed an audit last June by City Auditor Gary Nystul who noted that the city needed to more carefully monitor fuel consumption. Nystul recommended an overall policy to ensure adequate monitoring citing that one person needs to be responsible for the overall fuel operation.

It’s time that happens. And it’s time that the City of Bremerton determine just how many vehicles it has. Included in the most recent report on fuel consumption was the fact that city officials aren’t certain whether the fuel usage was for 73 vehicles, or 38 vehicles, as was reported in 2011. The department has 57 swore officers.

Measures are being taken by the city. More patrols are being made on bicycle when possible. And some vehicles have been equipped with a second battery to help power them while using less fuel.

But with a new chief, now is the time for the Bremerton Police Department to enforce its policy that officers not to leave their vehicles running unnecessarily during patrols. It seems there needs to be a better watch on officers sitting in their vehicles, surfing the Internet and running their car engine as we reported last month.

We all want timely response by the police when we call 9-1-1. We want police to patrol our neighborhoods. But each of us have to budget our gasoline use, especially when the price of fuel rises. We should expect the same from our public officials, especially when they are buying that gas on the taxpayer’s dime.

 

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