The 2013-14 Grand Jury has questioned the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department practice of leaving patrol cars idling while unattended.
Idling standby vehicles violates a county policy, adopted in 2008, that prohibits cars from idling for more than five minutes. The fuel cost for idling patrol vehicles for Santa Barbara County amounts to more than $200,000 per year, according to a Santa Barbara County General Services Department study released last year.
The explanation offered by the Sheriff’s Department for the need to leave patrol vehicles idling while unattended is that computer systems must remain operational at all times. If the computers shut down, there is an unacceptable delay in an emergency response due to the time required to restart computers. Yet, according to the Grand Jury report, several readily available backup power supplies offer a cost-effective fix for this problem.
The Sheriff’s Department has begun testing a car battery monitoring system this spring. The Grand Jury report recommends that the Sheriff’s Department “expedite” a solution to the idling vehicle problem in order to comply with the county’s anti-idling policy.
The entire report, “Idling Sheriff’s Vehicles: It’s About Dollars and Sense,” can be found by clicking here.
The Santa Barbara County Grand Jury is a basic part of California government within the judicial branch. The Grand Jury is charged with keeping watch over county government as well as cities and districts operating within the county.