Police, fire departments struggle with gas prices

Monday, June 16th 2008, 6:42 pm
By: News 9

By Gan Matthews, NEWS 9

PURCELL, Okla. - Rising gas prices are placing a strain on budgets for small-town police and fire departments.

Last week the Purcell City Council voted to increase the fuel allocation for public safety by 100 percent. Police Chief Kevin Williams welcomed the relief but said the department can't afford for gas prices to continue to increase.

"That money came from other areas of my budget," Williams said.

The chief said he will have to consider holding off on equipment purchases. If prices continue to increase he said he might have to reconsider his plan to hire four new officers next month.

The city has seen an increased need for police patrols since recent annexations increased the city's size by 20 percent, City Manager Eric Johnson.

"We have to have public safety," Johnson said.

Usually four of the police department's 22 cars are out patrolling at one time. Each car averages about 100 miles a day, police said.

Shift Supervisor Sgt. Heather Kaluzny said officers are looking for ways to save money including not leaving their car running, a common police practice.

"You don't want to run your city dry," Kaluzny said.