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How are smaller police departments managing high fuel prices? Glenwood and Ashland chiefs face tough choices

Smaller police departments say it's 'disheartening' to see high fuel prices
Posted at 6:31 PM, Jul 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-06 19:58:25-04

GLENWOOD, Iowa. (KMTV)  — When Officer Richard Rix takes a break to fill up the pump seeing the prices can be disheartening.

"Definitely not what we're used to, so it kind of puts a little bit of a strain on everything," Rix said.

Glenwood Police Chief Eric Johansen shares the sentiment. He says they set their budget a year in advance but they couldn't have anticipated this kind of surge.

"Our budget, we put almost a 25% increase for this upcoming fiscal year that we just started, but it wasn't enough to compensate for the current prices, so I'm hoping prices fall," Johansen said.

Johansen is taking all kinds of measures to save money.

"Some of the things we've been doing: trying to make sure if we have a training or a special event that we're gonna double up in vehicles, not take as many patrol units but have the same number of officers at an event," Johansen said.

Ashland Police Chief Ryan Brady is facing the same challenge. The department is projected to spend about 30% more on fuel than originally anticipated. Brady says there are always concerns he might have to move money away from other areas of the budget.

"If we lose some of our money for training or ammunition, training equipment, that sort of thing — that could add difficulty, could give us some more challenges. Might have to think outside the box a little to get all of our training done," Brady said.

Brady says his department doesn't have a fuel contract. They have fleet fuel cards at the gas stations. Some larger cities can buy fuel in bulk and have big tanks they can access at a city or county shop, so he faces a different set of challenges.

"As we feel the impact of inflation and fuel costs, it's going to directly impact the city's willingness to adjust pay increases. Some of those incentives that we want for our employees as well — paid benefits might have to take a back seat as they're adjusting to the increasing costs of fuel," Brady said.

This fiscal year Glenwood police budgeted $35,000 for operational costs like gas and oil changes, but the Chief expects they'll exceed those costs.

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