How gas prices impact police departments, especially in rural towns

Mar 10, 2022, 10:29 PM | Updated: Jun 19, 2022, 9:30 pm

BRIGHAM CITY, Utah — In small towns, driving is a part of life and for Andrew Carter, it’s a big part of his job, too.

“This is my office. Yup,” said Carter with a laugh while inside his patrol car. “I like my job. I like it a lot.”

Carter is a Brigham City police officer and spends a lot of time patrolling the streets.

“Out of a 10-hour shift, probably six to seven. Somewhere around there,” he said.

However, he has to do it.

All of Brigham City’s officers do.

No matter how high gas prices get.

“I had a meeting with the mayor and city manager just last week about not only gas prices, but just inflation in general,” said Brigham City Police Chief Chad Reyes.

Reyes says he knows the fuel budget will get another look but promises no patrol cars or officers will be kept off the street because of higher gas prices.

“We’ve discussed everything. We’re looking to adjust other budgets to maybe accommodate for that,” said Chief Reyes.

Last month, Brigham City spent $5,500 for fuel for its patrol cars.

It’s the same amount spent a year ago in February 2021, only this year Brigham City is down seven officers from 30 to 23.

Keeping and recruiting officers is another issue many police departments are dealing with.

Especially in smaller towns.

“We are struggling. We are. And we need to get some officers hired quick,” said Chief Reyes. “We are trying to increase our wages, come up with some other benefits, and try to get people to stay here who want to work here. It’s a great department.”

Reyes says officers are working extra patrols to keep staffing levels where they need to be.

He also says it’s important to try and find money to pay officers more money, so they’re not lost to other nearby cities who have increased officer salaries.

It’s an issue that was growing even before higher gas prices, even though the city will have to pay more for fuel now as well.

“Despite gas prices, despite us being down, the safety of our citizens is what’s most important,” said Chief Reyes. “Our primary purpose and our primary mission is to make sure that we protect and serve and even though we’ve got these obstacles in the way, we do that every day and we’ll keep doing that every day.”

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How gas prices impact police departments, especially in rural towns