Smith: Law Enforcement Feels Sting of High Gas Prices
Congressman Lamar Smith (TX-21) today met with Austin Mayor Will Wynn, Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo and Travis County Sheriff Greg Hamilton to discuss the challenges faced by law enforcement due to high gas prices. Across the country, sky-high fuel costs have squeezed budgets, forcing some police and sheriff departments to cut back on patrols and hiring new officers.
"Keeping our neighborhoods safe is a tall order even without the very real financial pressure placed on public safety by the high price of gas," said Smith, who is the Ranking Member of the House Judiciary Committee. "This illustrates just how pervasive the energy crisis is and underscores the urgent need for a common sense American energy policy to help bring down prices at the pump."
In Texas, the budget crunch has affected communities large and small. Last year, the Houston Police Department surpassed its $8.7 million gasoline budget and expects to spend $11.3 million this year. In Boerne, the police department is turning to more fuel efficient police cruisers to help ease the strain.
In Austin, the City purchases five million gallons of gas a year for public safety and APD has developed a vehicle pool program to reduce its fleet size. APD also has 128 flex-fuel vehicles and gas-electric hybrids.
"To be sure, we're feeling the pinch of high gas prices in municipal operations - fortunately, in Austin we're a little head of the game," said Austin Mayor Will Wynn. "We've embarked on an aggressive program to increase the fuel efficiency of our fleet and ultimately convert it away from petroleum entirely. In a carbon-constrained economy, we believe this is the conservative approach our taxpayers deserve."
"The Austin Police Department is committed to efficient use of our resources, and the current rise in energy costs has lead us to further examine savings measures," said Austin Police Chief Art Acevedo. "These measures include the purchase of flex-fuel vehicles and the use of hybrid technology where operationally feasible. We appreciate Congressman Smith's efforts to assist the
This week Smith will return to Washington to push for a vote on a comprehensive measure to increase the supply of American-made energy, improve conservation and efficiency, and promote renewable and alternative energy technologies.
"We need to have an open debate and vote on energy," said Smith. "And while we may not all see eye to eye, government officials should at least agree to take into account public safety concerns when discussing energy solutions."