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By Kevin Cummings
Chattanooga Times Free Press

DALTON, Ga. - Thanks to the bruising fuel-cost pinch, city police officers soon will have to monitor their driving habits more closely.
Police Chief Jason Parker said a new department fuel policy will go into effect Oct. 1 that requires employees to pay for gas used in department vehicles if they exceed monthly use limits.
Police department spokesman Bruce Frazier said the policy will not cut into neighborhood patrols or inhibit officers from backing each other up.
"They're not going to do something that would put another officer, or anyone in the public, in jeopardy," he said.
Chief Parker said city officers' beats are small enough that they'll be able to help one another whenever needed.
The chief said he has tried to meet with every employee in the department to explain the policy, and he said officers are concerned about the potential impact on their personal finances and being able to do their job.
But Chief Parker said the plan was studied thoroughly and that it will be up to officers and supervisors to adjust to the limits.
To come up with the plan, fuel consumption of each division of the department was studied in relation to how much gasoline the department should use per month. Mr. Frazier said the calculations took into account possible overtime and concentrated patrols. Exceptions will be handled case by case, such as if an officer had to transport an inmate from Atlanta.
It is a "good, fair policy," according to City Councilman George Sadosuk, who also serves on the city's Public Safety Commission.
"I think it's great that the police department has been proactive on this and taken the lead on it," he said.
Mr. Frazier said department personnel will receive training on the policy and on ways to conserve fuel, such as not letting vehicles sit and idle and when to perform foot patrols.
If the policy had been in effect in July, department employees would have had to buy a combined 600 gallons of fuel from their own pockets, Mr. Frazier said. At that rate, the policy should save the department about 7,000 gallons of fuel a year. The average officer in the department's Assigned Vehicle Program has a commute distance of 10.21 miles.

MONTHLY FUEL LIMITS
* Administrative staff -- 45 gallons
* Patrol officers -- 120 gallons
* Patrol sergeants -- 65 gallons
* Criminal Investigators -- 75 gallons
* Drug Unit -- 95 gallons

Wire Service
 
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