Ask a Cop: Why Do Police Officers Waste Gas?

Officers directing traffic leave their engines running for hours sometimes. Why?

Do you have something you'd like to ask a local police agency? Drop a note to brad.kava@patch.com and we will get the answer.


Why do police officers always leave their cars running when they are directing traffic at events such as the Aptos fireworks? I saw a highway patrol officer with his car running for hours there. It seems like an environmental waste. Can't they just get in their cars and turn them on if needed?

Answer, from Sarah Jackson, California Highway Patrol, Aptos division:

Patrol vehicles contain a large amount of electronic equipment: Mobile data computers, audio/video recording devices, and our communication radios. 

Because this is a significant drain on a battery, the vehicle must remain running or the battery will quickly run out. Our newer patrol vehicles are equipped with two full-size batteries, however this still is not adequate for extended periods of time. 

Officers also rely on the consistent availability of radio communication in order to be responsive to calls from the public or in cases of emergency incidents.
Another issue is a K9 Officer's vehicle. These are equipped with a special air conditioning system which must remian operational in order to provide a healthy work environment for the officer's K9 partner. (CHP does not have a K9 Officer assigned to Santa Cruz, but we do in other areas.)
An officer who is stranded with a dead battery and unable to respond to a call for service from the public is not acceptable to us, and would not likely be acceptable to the public needing our help.

Brian January 14, 2013 at 11:05 PM
advanced lithium battery technology would solve this problem but it would cost upwards of two grand or more per vehicle.
Crank Orr Jr. III January 15, 2013 at 03:17 AM
Another bait and switch by the patch staff. Who's running this site, a bunch of high school kids?
Robert Norse January 15, 2013 at 05:05 PM
So then SCPD vehicles are different? You don't see beat cops, or cops getting coffee--when they've parked their cars--leaving them running. Even when their cars are stopped in the middle of the street to deal with a "crime" like sitting on the sidewalk within 14' of a building (high on the hit parade of downtown ordinance citations), the car isn't usually kept running. Do the SCPD have supercars perhaps? Or is this just a superstory from the CHP?


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