Law enforcement in metro Detroit plan on staying visible, patrolling despite high gas prices

In Oakland County, officers drove around 5.7 million miles last year responding to calls
Posted at 3:27 PM, Jun 13, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-13 18:28:55-04

(WXYZ) — In Oakland County, the sheriff's office says patrol cars are not just burning gas—they're also burning funding.

"It is impacting us in a big way," Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said.

Last week, one mid-Michigan police department made headlines after announcing that its deputies will take more calls over the phone in order to save gas.

That post from Isabella County Sheriff Michael Main read in part, “I have instructed the deputies to attempt to manage whatever calls are acceptable over the phone. This would be non-in-progress calls, non-life-threatening calls, calls that do not require evidence collection or documentation.”

But after receiving some backlash—the department removed the post from Facebook. But some residents said after paying for gas themselves—they understand.

"Sounds like they are still responding to the calls they need to respond to," Bouchard said.

In Oakland County, officers drove around 5.7 million miles last year responding to calls.

To put this into perspective, the distance to the Moon is about 238,900 miles. The distance from New York to Los Angeles is 2,789 miles. That means officers took about 23 trips to the Moon, or about 2,000 trips from New York to LA in one year.

"We will try to do what we can, but we have been cutting our budget for years," Sheriff Bouchard said.

The sheriff’s office saves some money by buying fuel in bulk for its own pumps.

Sheriff Bouchard said one thing he is not considering is directing deputies to decrease patrols or calls. He said visible strategically placed patrols decrease response times and make criminals think twice.

"We’re out, we’re visible and were seen," he said.

Plus — just last week the Department of Homeland Security sent out a warning, saying the U.S. “remains in a heightened threat environment” because “threat actors have recently mobilized.”

Potential targets could include public gatherings, faith-based institutions, schools, racial and religious minorities, government facilities and personnel, U.S. critical infrastructure, the media, and perceived ideological opponents.

Sheriff Bouchard knows threats can hit close to home.

His deputies responded to Oxford High School just months ago when a 15-year-old opened fire, killing four classmates and injuring seven others, and have been investigating a high number of threats.

"With the intense work load, threats against schools and businesses, we have been investigating 7 to 10 threats against schools every week," said Sheriff Bouchard.

7 Action News reached out to other sheriff's offices around metro Detroit and heard the same story. They are concerned they might go over fuel budgets, but none reported cuts in patrols or calls.

The hope from sheriffs we spoke to, and pretty much every driver with a internal combustion engine, is that hopefully these high prices are temporary.