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City vehicles waste thousands of dollars in idle gas

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58 Comments Article Rating:3.20 | Read: 23249 | New today: 3 | Mobile Version

"You don't really need to idle your car, because of the efficiency of modern fuel injection, which eliminated carburetors and chokes. The only reason to let the car idle at all is to get the oil circulating, but after 30 seconds that's a done deal. My truck has 150,000 miles on it, and I just throw it into gear and go." - Rob Maier



It isn't uncommon to see a police cruiser sitting in a parking lot, at a crime, idling with no officer in site; most would say they would prefer a police cruiser to stay running just in case there is an emergency.

This is the common misconception in todays times, the time it takes to start a car is not like it was back a decade or more ago. After about 10 seconds money is wasted by running the engine than restarting it.

This question has been on my mind and a reader today submitted a video of one such cruiser here in Columbus. The Cruiser was parked 2 lots away from McDonald's yesterday morning and it isn't uncommon to see the same car there day after day. The officers meet up for breakfast, since their meals are free at various restaurants throughout Columbus.

The idea behind the idling cars is this - one officer pictured above said "I leave it running just in case I have an emergency". OK! I get that but did you know...

Over a year of five minutes of daily idling (which causes incomplete combustion of fuel), the "Anti-Idling Primer" estimates that the operator of a V8-engine car will waste 20 gallons of gasoline, which not only produces 440 pounds of carbon dioxide but costs at least $60.

Idling also will force an engine "to operate in an inefficient and gasoline lean mode and over time will degrade the engine's ability to perform efficiently and reduce mileage."

There are many reasons why a police car may need to be left running, back in the 80's early 90's, but with today's technology battery drain isn't one of them.

Outside of a K9 unit, police cruisers should be turned off while on lunch, while visiting the convenience store getting a fountain drink etc...

The cost of gasoline in today's market is average $3.09 and if idling for 2 minutes can cost a mile think of all the money that is being wasted by the local tax payer.

The time it would take for an officer to start his car is about 3 seconds and in an emergency that time increases to roughly 7 seconds (fiddling with his keys), once the officer is inside the car.

The car in the video was idling more than 30 minutes not to mention the 2 other police cruisers that were left running. It might sound like nitpicking, but the fuel that is wasted can add up. We submitted a request for the following information:

How many active fleet of police cars does Columbus have? 

How many total miles over a 12 month period do they rack up?

What is the number of gallons gas burned in the fleet?

Depending on the number of active cars Columbus has, the amount of miles, and the gallons burned, you could mathematically figure the cost and savings for the police and Sheriff departments in Columbus; not to mention ALL CITY VEHICLES.

The dangers of leaving a police cruiser or any car idle in a parking lot are; it could slip out of park and into gear causing damage to the vehicle or anyone or anything near. Thieves could break in and go for a joy ride, placing many in danger and it isn't good for the environment.

Columbus should re-evaluate the savings to the budget by eliminating the idle waste of fuel and enacte an ordiance to prevent the pratice of idling cars throughout Columbus Indiana.

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Follow the comments ticker feed Comments (58 posted)

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Kerrign Smith 24/12/2011 13:58:37
You should re-evaluate where you want to live because nothing in Columbus is ever going to make you happy - since you are, no doubt, NOT in law enforcement, but you are an expert because you have a truck with 150,000 miles on it - apply for a job as a policeman, get a job as a policeman, move up through the ranks and become chief and then you can tell the officers to shut off their vehicles because you know more than they do. Until then, be quiet.
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Jim 26/12/2011 12:53:02
LOL at admin. He could NEVER handle the job as a policeman.
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Admin 26/12/2011 15:48:50
Just like everyone else, you assume I'm male.
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Jim 31/12/2011 17:57:15
LOL.... No where in that comment did it say that you were a male.... It said that, you could NOT handle the job as a police officer. There are female officers on the force.... Duh!
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Diveho 03/01/2012 03:13:04
Check you statement more closely, it does in fact say HE.
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Paula Jarrett 26/12/2011 18:17:38
Who can forget you Joanna, unless some are new to this site....
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Admin 24/12/2011 18:01:29
Kerrign,

Obviously you didn't read the details to see the bigger picture.
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Paula Jarrett 24/12/2011 17:18:11
I think there were enough facts here to be taken seriously. The first thing that came to my mind was the pollution created by this. Also, if cars weren't left idling, the money saved might allow for another officer, or a raise, for these underpaid professionals.

I'm curious what Mayor-elect Brown will do to stop this practice. Air quality is important, and can be avoided, I realize some can't. IMHO, there were valid points here to raise eyebrows. Hopefully, Brown will save the city some money by ceasing this practice. time will tell.
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Kerrigan Smith 24/12/2011 18:15:31
I did read the article, I am just saying if he cares so much, don't just write about it, do something to solve it - be part of the process, not just an author. Run for office, get a job as a policeman, etc. It's easy to complain, but so much harder to actually do something.
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glenn 31/12/2011 01:23:16
i think bringing it to peoples attention is doing something about it lol
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Administrator 25/12/2011 03:12:07
Kerrigan, this wasn't my article but it represents very well just what we do here at Columbuzz. Many times, making people aware of an issue is a way to help resolve that issue. Nobody can fix it if they don't know it's broken.

Over the years, we have alerted the Mayor's office to many issues that they didn't know about and those issues were remedied right away. In fact, most of us here are really going to miss this administration. But I'm sure the new folks will be just as willing to know when there is a problem.

That is the very reason that Columbuzz even exists.
Oh, we have our fun with some idiot officeholders that think they are pulling the wool over everyone's eyes. Idling cars is a minor thing compared to mistreating clients, shifting as much money as possible to buddy departments, making employees fear for their jobs, threatening whistleblowers, staying drunkon the job, and overall, just bending us taxpayers over for evilness.

But mainly, we are here to help inform. And sadly, we do that in spite of some folks who repeatedly want to attack and ridicule us for trying. Usually those who fight us the most are those who have something to hide.

Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah Kerrigan..... We always appreciate your comments.
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Paula Jarrett 25/12/2011 05:56:56
Spot on Bob, and Admins...
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Downsouth Bill 25/12/2011 08:14:03
Maybe we could all chat a bit about a soon to be Ex Local Frivolous Spending Mayor and his wasting of Taxpayer's money on Pet Projects and taking care of his BUDDIES.
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Politics 101 26/12/2011 07:57:40
Rumor has it that the Mayor-Elect, HRH Brown, is micro-managing to the point that some folks has said NO after being asked to serve. Interesting times ahead...ROFLMAO!
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Paula Jarrett 26/12/2011 17:41:28
Help me..what's HRH??
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olden 27/12/2011 03:43:24
just a guess, her royal highness
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Kerrigan Smith 25/12/2011 14:13:53
OKay, so today I asked an on-duty officer why he lets his car idle - he said once he leaves his home he is on duty - the computer and radio and I believe the car camera is always on. That means if he shuts off the car, the computer and radio are draining the battery of the car. So, we can save a little gas and hope the car starts when a call is received or we can spend a little money and leave the car idling and make sure it will be ready when it is needed to respond to emergencies - I, personally, would rather they be ready when a home invasion is happening, or my kid is hit by another kid, or I see a robbery going on. But, that's just me. You know if you thought it was a problem, why didn't you ask? Everything you think is a terrible thing, just isn't and may just have a good explanation, but instead of doing a little investigating on the side of the police you decide that what they are doing is wrong.

I wonder why your writer has such a thing about policemen - could it be because he/she has been on the wrong side of the police several times - could it be he has been in conflict with the police? Just wondering?
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Admin 25/12/2011 19:06:23
Also, I agree having the cruiser ready in the case of an emergency is helpful, but parking it 2 lots away isn't. Also in reference to having somethin against the police or being on the wrong side has nothing to do with this article. The article is City vehicles... Not CPD, they were the motivation behind it because of the video.
Police need to hold themselves to a higher standard than they currently do. So u should quit deflecting the topic into a attack on the CPD, cause we have plenty to report on them but don't.

The CPD vehicles are no different than any other city used vehicles. We see the police leaving their vehicles running idle more often.
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Admin 25/12/2011 18:57:15
I addressed this notion or idea behind leaving the car running. The lights, computer no longer are an issue Like it was back in the early 90's. The light bars and strobes are now almost all LED and use a fraction of the power, and dont drain the battery when the car is off. If that was the case then the cars would need to be plugged in at night.

The computers are laptops and don't require the use of the car while the car is off. Your not this easily convinced are you?

As for the camera - it is activated when the lights are and may be manually but it isn't running all the time. Maybe you should do some research and think outside the box before you assume what your lead to believe is truth by an officer who tells you what you need to hear to satisfy your curiosity.
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Citizen 25/12/2011 21:00:36
You are wrong. Battery drain is a serious concern and is very common in emergency vehicles with multiple alternators and added electronics. Saving $60.00 a year is a joke when the alternative is an emergency vehicle that won't start when needed. What is help worth to you when you need it? Anyone that has ever really needed help in an emergency knows that help can never come soon enough and money is of no concern.
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Paula Jarrett 26/12/2011 17:49:28
that cost is just for ONE car...it's wasting gas, and I won't even go into the unnecesarry air toxins...
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Administrator 26/12/2011 02:52:41
Kerrigan and Citizen, I totally agree.

Again, it's a matter of some people looking at money spent as an expense, while others realize that expense is an essential investment.

Now, if you're a police officer leaving the police car running in a Lowe's parking lot late at night while your girlfriend does calisthenics with her head, and it makes you run around the parking lot worrying if your wife hired someone to check on you, then it's just a cost of idiocy that we must put up with.

But God will do the collecting on that one.....
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Politics 101 26/12/2011 06:35:37
I agree. Leaving a police cruiser running wasting gas is...a waste and it needs to stop.
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