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Ask a Cop: Why Do Police Officers Waste Gas?

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

Question:

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.

WTF?? January 16, 2013 at 04:39 PM
I have seen this on several occasions as well. Lights on, blow the stop light, lights off, resume normal driving. Must be nice. lol
best bookkeeper January 16, 2013 at 05:21 PM
Why do firefighters park and idle their enormous gas-guzzlers in front of the Lucky while they shop for lunch? Why do they pull up behind convertibles and start the siren? Why do cops blow around bikers? "Because they can"--after all, WE are paying, including paying for many hours of sleeping and eating.
Analisa Harangozo January 16, 2013 at 06:15 PM
If we were to continue with this feature, who else would you like us to survey for it?
Analisa Harangozo January 16, 2013 at 06:16 PM
DJ - If we were to continue with this feature, who else would you like us to survey for it?
Hugo January 17, 2013 at 12:52 AM
My gripe is when drivers do not use their turning signals. Unfortunately, some policemen are in this category. I wonder how many less accidents would occur if people practiced this safe practice. I wonder why people are not given tickets. If police gave tickets to people for not using their blinkers, Ca would be collecting so much money.

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