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Tipsheet

The Consequence of High Gas Prices No One Thinks About

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez

Americans are well aware of the record-high price of fuel as gas prices have more than doubled since the President Joe Biden took office. The energy crisis — soaring gas and electricity prices paired with the threat of rolling blackouts for more than half the country this summer — isn't just endangering Americans' budgets. 

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As Katie reported last week, soaring fuel prices are making communities less safe as record gas prices are "also blowing out public safety budgets," leading to one Michigan sheriff's department already draining their fuel budget for 2022 less than halfway through the year.

Now, in Ohio, the South Zanesville Police Department has reduced its presence and visibility in the community in order to cut back on fuel expenses. Obviously, reducing the visibility and coverage for law enforcement has a direct impact on safety within the community that's less than 60 miles east of Columbus. But the department had no choice as Biden's gas and inflation crises show no signs of easing up soon. As of Thursday, the AAA average for a gallon of gas in Ohio sat at $5.026, more than the current national average of $5.009. 

Chief Mark Ross, in an interview on Fox & Friends this week, reported that his department is already dipping into other budget sections allocated for new equipment in order to cover fuel costs.

In addition, the South Zanesville PD will now rely on "stationary patrols," meaning officers will go to a set position where they are visible in a high-traffic area, turn off their cruiser, and "just sit there and be observant and be seen," Chief Ross explained. "We’re not as visible as we normally want to be."

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But in summer months, Ross added, 911 call volumes increase, meaning there's more demand for officers to be driving their cruisers in response to calls. "Until the prices come down, we're going to have to adjust our budget," he added of the need to get creative with available funds to make ends meet. "We’re going to be over our budget if it continues," Ross said of record-setting gas prices. 

Finding the silver lining, Ross explained that his officers have been parking their cruisers and doing more walking around the community to deepen relationships with the residents and business owners of South Zanesville. 

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