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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 police agency? Drop a note to brad.kava@patch.com and we will get the answer.

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 remain 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.

Triple Canopy January 18, 2013 at 03:46 AM
So polluting is OK? Don't they know how many deaths and illnesses are caused by exhaust emissions? EVERYBODY has to do their fair share.
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