Local deputies find ways to save gas

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If you're running on empty waiting for gas prices to go down, don't hold your breath.

We were around town today and caught prices pushing $2.90 a gallon.

With low supplies and international instability, things could get worse before they get better.

It's putting a pinch in everyone's plans...including those people paid to protect you.

If you've seen deputies riding around in Columbia County lately, you may have seen two or three deputies in one car. It's one of the ways deputies are dealing with those high gas prices.

As gas prices go up, up, up, so too are the number of ways local law enforcement are finding to cope with the pinch at the pump.

"We're doubling up on prisoner transports when possible. We are asking our officers to carpool when they're going off site for training. Those might sound like little things, but in the end, they do in fact save," says Capt. Steve Morris of the Columbia County Sheriff's Office.

And saving is key, as the department's fleet management is well over budget due to the rising gas prices.

Capt. Morris says some deputies are being asked to cut down on their idle patrol time--instead finding high visibility areas, parking and turning off their engines.

"What we've done has helped," Capt. Morris says. "We do know we have spent so far in eight months this year as much as we did all of last year [on gas]."

The high prices are also a concern in Richmond County...but they can't afford to double up because of a staff shortage. They have found other ways to conserve.

"When we can, we go to the substations, pick up reports and those sorts of things, shut the engines off, those kinds of things. We're doing all we can to conserve as much as we can," says Maj. Richard Weaver.

With gas prices seemingly going up and down and up again, Columbia County fleet manager Clayton Galloway says the department is now seeking a long-term solution.

"We're looking at hybrid vehicles, some alternative fuels, we're looking at some new technology on the market that makes vehicles more fuel-efficient," Galloway says.

Both departments say the cutting back is not affecting the level of law enforcement they are providing to the community.