D.C. police chief Burtell Jefferson yesterday ordered top police officials and administrative personnel to cut their use of 405 nonpatrol police cars to save gasoline.
"The chief told us today to double up, use public transportation," said finance and management director Isaac Fulwood, whose office is included in the order.
This newest gas conservation effort follows an order requiring all scout car officers and K-9 units in the city's seven police districts to park their cars and walk for one hour of each eight-hour shift. Criminal investigators were also told to use their cars less.
The order was prompted by the D.C. City Councils recent refusal to approve a full supplemental budget request made by the police department to meet its gasoline costs through September. The council reduced the gasoline request by $140,000.
Encouraged by the apparent success of the foot patrols, "We told them to walk two hours," said Council member David A. Clarke (D-Ward 1) chairman of the judiciary committee. "The community wants them out walking."
Fulwood said the department is preparing for the pinch but may appeal directly to Congress to approve its original request.
Meanwhile, use of the 405 nonpatrol cars will be strictly supervised by the motor pool director, Assistant Chief Charles Rinaldi, and the bureau chiefs, Fulwood said.
He implied that some divisions may even lose their cars entirely.
"I have a car assigned to my office," Fulwood said. "The training academy has four or five cars used for training purposes. Our cars will probably be assigned to the motor pool," which has 19 cars for all four bureaus to draw from.
Normally, the nonpatrol cars might be used in police planning studies or activities such as Fulwood's trip to the Iranian Embassy during the eviction this week "to see about getting coffee for people," he said.
But "the chief told us today, where possible, use public transportation, the D.C. shuttle bus, or double up to go places when its not critical to be there in a few minutes," he said.
The department currently uses about 125,000 gallons of gasoline a month, he said. Its goal is to cut total gas use by 15 percent.
"With events coming up like May Day, nuclear demonstrations and this Iranian thing," gasoline usage fluctuates, he said. "What we're saying to the federal government is, when these things happen you have to reimburse us. And they don't want to. We can't refuse to do the job."