Fuel costs cripple police, fire departments

Friday, May 23rd 2008, 11:16 pm
By: News 9

By Jacqueline Sit, NEWS 9

CARNEY, Okla. - High gas prices are taking their toll on the emergency services in small Oklahoma towns.

Greg Wilson, Carney fire and police chief, said the departments paid at least $6,000last month on gas alone. If prices continue to increase, he fears the departments may have to shut down.

The chief said he is considering cutting down on patrols to save money in the meantime.

"Once we're down crime is going to skyrocket," he said. "These guys know that we're not operational, they know we're not out there."

Wilson said he's already seeing a spike in crimes in Carney including sexual assaults, drug abuse and copper thefts.

"These people are stealing copper so they can put gas in their car," he said. "We're supposed to be out here monitoring thousands of these sites."

Wilson said his situation isn't unique, police and fire departments in small towns all across Oklahoma also are facing tough times. Wilson fears the increasing prices could eliminate emergency forces in small towns.

"If they go up to $5, $6 a gallon, this place won't be here," he said. "It will be here, but it will be mothball because we can't afford operational cost."