Living in an Imperial World: Roadblocks in the Heartland
From the Bluegrass State comes this story of post-freedom American policing:
Expect fewer state troopers driving Kentucky's highways this summer -- and more checkpoints -- courtesy of rising gas prices.
Kentucky State Police announced yesterday that starting July 4, the agency will scale back patrols and set up at least 200 checkpoints to reduce the amount of gas officers are burning on state roads.
The new enforcement policy, which will continue through Labor Day, is an attempt to curtail costs. State police spent $132,000 more for gas this May than during the same time last year, despite using 6 percent less gas.
"We're trying to let traffic come to us instead of us seeking traffic," state police Capt. Tim Lucas said.
Other law enforcement agencies are also taking steps to cut gas costs.
Oldham County officers are being told to turn off their cars for one hour each shift. And troopers with Indiana State Police have been ordered to shut off car engines while parked to perform tasks such as radar checks, said Sgt. Dave Bursten, a spokesman for the agency in Indianapolis.
Shepherdsville Police Chief Doug Puckett said his department has increased foot and bike patrols.
Chief Deputy Danny Thompson of the Bullitt County Sheriff's Department said he's worried his department may go over budget for fuel costs, despite allocating more than twice the amount the department spent last year.
"We'd like for someone to tell us how to save money," he said. "We think we've tried just about everything."
While the Louisville Metro Police Department hasn't had to change its policing methods because of fuel costs, it is cutting overtime pay and requiring officers who use department cars for other jobs to pay $60 per month.
"KSP, they have a lot more ground to cover," Metro Police spokeswoman Alicia Smiley said. "We plan to keep officers on their beats."
Lucas said the plan to have fewer troopers patrolling state roadways would not compromise public safety, and checkpoints would work just as well to stem drinking and driving, seat belt violations and other factors that contribute to highway injuries and fatalities.
Troopers will moderate the flow of traffic through the checkpoints by allowing some vehicles to pass through and stopping others for random inspections.
"Through our safety checkpoints, folks will know we're in the area," Lucas said. "I think there's a residual effect during the road check and afterward."
He said the agency would evaluate the effectiveness of the checkpoints and the impact on the budget after Labor Day before deciding whether to continue the program. The agency aims to reduce fuel consumption by 10 percent overall.
State police have been working to curb consumption since last year, but as pump prices continue to rise, they are still eating away at the agency's budget...
Well, since it's being done to save fuel, who could object?