Deputies’ cars idle despite gas prices
May 27, 2006
Police officers in Park City are not allowed to leave their vehicles running during breaks, authorities say.
The department is currently investigating an officer who left his patrol vehicle running in a parking lot in Prospector a few weeks ago, Park City police Lt. Phil Kirk said.
"I think that we’ve corrected that problem," Kirk said.
The officer was likely downloading a document on his laptop computer inside the sport utility vehicle and turning off the truck would have shut down power to the electronic device, he added.
"We don’t authorize the officers to do that," Kirk said about officers who may leave their vehicles running.
Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies, however, routinely leave SUVs idling during breaks.
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"When your husband’s kicking the crap out of you and you’re dialing 911 while he’s ripping the phone out of the wall, which happens pretty much on a weekly basis in Summit County, then all of the sudden you’re wondering why the cops aren’t there," Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Dave Booth said. "Those are the people that don’t care that our vehicles idle."
But many citizens do complain when the county’s conspicuous black trucks are seen running at lunchtime.
"We just don’t have a choice," Booth said.
The time required to log on computers and power up video cameras, radar and communications devices, could be the difference between life and death, he claimed.
"It takes our guys in our cars anywhere from five to 10 minutes to get their computers up and running," Booth said, adding that leaving the computer on when the SUV is off drains the battery in the vehicle. "People want cops there now, they want them there three minutes ago. They don’t want excuses that we were trying to get our laptop up and running."
Often officers depend on on-board laptop computers to provide directions to emergencies.
"We’ve got new streets being built every day," Booth said. "We have to have our computers to figure out where we’re going."
Despite the cost of gasoline in Summit County approaching $3 per gallon, Booth says "the gas prices haven’t caused us to overly address it."
"We’ve explored a lot of different options on this," he said, adding, "people have always cared about the cars idling."
Deputies who take breaks in groups are now instructed to shut down some vehicles while they dine.
"There’s no reason to have two or three cars out there idling," Booth said.
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