Archive for Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kansas Highway Patrol reducing driving miles, adopting other measures to save money

Other measures also being taken to reduce costs

About 70 Kansas Highway Patrol cars converged on the city parking garage at Sixth and New Hampshire streets before the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game in this file photo. In response to the state of the economy, the Kansas Highway Patrol is cutting the number of miles that troopers will travel by 10 percent.

About 70 Kansas Highway Patrol cars converged on the city parking garage at Sixth and New Hampshire streets before the 2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Championship Game in this file photo. In response to the state of the economy, the Kansas Highway Patrol is cutting the number of miles that troopers will travel by 10 percent.

September 2, 2009

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Highway Patrol cutting down on miles

The Kansas Highway Patrol is cutting back on the number of miles troopers drive in an attempt to save money. Troopers will still be pulling drivers over and will still respond to accidents. Enlarge video

The Kansas Highway Patrol has cut the number of miles that troopers spend traveling state highways by 10 percent, in response to the state’s economic pinch.

While you may notice fewer KHP troopers driving on the roads, the officers are now spending more of their time parked along the side of the road hunting for traffic violators.

Reducing mileage —to save money on gas — is one of several temporary cost-saving measures the highway patrol is taking to reduce state expenditures.

“The economic situation has really forced us, and many other agencies, to reduce costs where we can,” said Trooper Edna Buttler, KHP spokeswoman. “Fuel usage was one of the highest … costs that we had, so that was naturally one of the better choices to make.”

Under the request, a trooper who normally drives 3,000 miles a month has been asked to reduce mileage by 300. Details about how much money the fuel reduction would save the state was not immediately available Wednesday.

Buttler said officers would still respond to calls for help and didn’t intend to issue any fewer tickets.

“The patrol continues to manage its resources so we can provide the level of service that is expected of us and still respond where we are needed,” she said.

The KHP, which employs more than 800 workers across the state, is also taking several other cost-saving measures:

• Patrol vehicles will receive oil changes every 5,000 miles, instead of every 3,000 miles.

• The law enforcement agency will not purchase any new or replacement uniforms.

• Troopers will share rides to and from training.

• Out-of-state travel will be limited.

The measures come amid four rounds of spending cuts the state has made this year to prevent a budget deficit from developing.

“We’re finding every means possible to reduce costs, just like every other agency that’s been asked to bear this burden,” Buttler said.

In addition, troopers are asking drivers to help them keep the roads safe, so there will be less demand on their services, by doing simple things like following the rules of the road, wearing seat belts, using turn signals and not using cell phones while driving.

Comments

KansasVoter 5 years, 8 months ago

"In addition, troopers are asking drivers to ... not us[e] cell phones while driving."

That's a laugh! Literally half of the law enforcement vehicles that I pass have the driver talking on a cell phone. I guess that this is one of those "do as I say, not as I do" kind of requests.

Alexander Neighbors 5 years, 8 months ago

you wanna cut back on fuel spending get photo radar or just time the tickets. if you speed between point a and b you will get there faster than if you were going the speed limit....

iLikelawrence 5 years, 8 months ago

I think it'd be funny if they road the K10 connector and had cops with a radar gun on the bus then have pre-positioned squad cars to get the speeders.

cozy 5 years, 8 months ago

Heres a thought, dont go buy new GMC Yukons (or whatever huge gas guzzling SUVs they have) every other year. Just like buying all new Chargers. What exactly was wrong with the Crown Vics that you just had to buy new Chargers and gas guzzling SUVs??

Mike Wagner 5 years, 8 months ago

I have often wondered who approved the purchase of the Yukons and Trucks? How did/do they justify needing them? Is it just the State Troopers that have them? I feel the same about Law Enforcement being on the phone while driving as I do everyone else (Get off the dam phone and DRIVE!) I will say that if I could choose any branch of Law Enforcement to come help me, it would definitely be the KHP!

timetospeakup 5 years, 8 months ago

Cut them some slack - according to the article, they drive 3,000 miles a month. That puts a 3 year old car at over 100,000 miles. Law enforcement needs reliable cars, and keeping high mileage cars 100% reliable gets expensive fast.

If my car with 100k miles on it doesn't start today, I call in late for work. If a trooper on a call to an accident or crime in progress can't get his cruiser started, it may be somebody's life, perhaps yours.

getreal 5 years, 8 months ago

More good things brought to us by the Kansas Legislature and their failure to fund the services that people rely on. While this doesn't have much impact on those of us living in eastern Kansas, it will have a great impact on those west of Topeka when they are stranded on the road. 300 miles may not seem like much, but multiply by the number of officers and it could be devastating.

All the while the legislature had money for 80 of them to attend a conference.

Zachary Stoltenberg 5 years, 8 months ago

How about we eliminate the incompetent LPD and instead contract the KHP to take care of Lawrence! It would be a big funding boost to KHP and we as tax payers may actually start getting the services we pay for. Don't get them confused, there is a difference between a cop and a highway patrolman.

corey872 5 years, 8 months ago

"Buttler said officers would still respond to calls for help and didn’t intend to issue any fewer tickets."

So this seems to be saying they intend to issue the same number of tickets - regardless of what traffic conditions actually warrant?

So much for not having quotas! Gotta keep that tax money rolling in.

ferrislives 5 years, 8 months ago

I must admit that I've been treated very fairly by the KHP when I've been stopped. I do a lot of driving on small highways, and they do stop people for hardly anything at times to catch drunk drivers. But they quickly realize that I'm not drinking and driving, and they've treated me with respect every time (knock on wood). Unlike the LPD and KUPD, which has always been rude and obnoxious to me and others in the community. The area Sheriff's office guys are courteous as well.

topflight 5 years, 8 months ago

Cozy, do you actually have any facts about the "gas guzzling SUVs" that the highway patrol drives? Have you compared the mileage to the crown vics and chargers? Do you realize police cars are not made to get 40 mpg like your hybrid? The tahoe does in fact compare within 1-2 mpg of the crown vic and the charger. Also, the highway patrol does not drive around the city all day in stop and go traffic. The majority of their enforcement is on the highway. So actually, the "huge gas guzzling SUVs" get better gas mileage than most crown vics, since they are stuck within city limits and at stop lights. I also agree, get off of the damn phone cops.

salad 5 years, 8 months ago

Photo radar + ticket-in-the-mail = cost savings + impartial + real impact on road safety + MUCH safer for officers

Janet Lowther 5 years, 8 months ago

Just what, exactly, does the Highway Patrol do that is worthwhile? Generate fine & court cost revenue?

As near as I can tell, just about all they do is harass motorists over arbitrary laws. Every interaction a citizen has with a Law Enforcement Officer where the citizen does not feel he has done anything wrong reduces the condemnatory power of all laws.

If they did actual investigative work, contributing to the solution of real crimes like burglary, robbery, murder, kidnapping, etc. I'd be a lot more concerned about cutting back their activities.

Joe Hyde 5 years, 8 months ago

I wonder if it's possible to create a Patrol Support Fund into which citizens who'd like to assist our Troopers directly may do so by mailing in money to help fund gasoline purchases, new and replacement uniforms, patrol unit maintenance, etc.

Such a Fund could also offer the conventional on-line option as well, whereby citizens have the convenience of using credit/debit cards to electronically donate money to help fund the Patrol's operations.

Whether this idea is practical, or even allowable under state laws, I don't know. But it would be a way for ordinary drivers on the road to lend assistance to these officers who help us out so much.

Here's another idea: Examine the moving violation tickets issued by Troopers during the last five years, for the purpose of determining which Kansas counties rank highest in the number of drivers committing moving violations on our highways. Then, to offset the Patrol's projected annual funding shortfall, the State of Kansas has the statistics to justify imposing a special High Violator County tax. This tax (call it an "abusers fee") would be imposed on every vehicle owned by persons living in an identified high-violator county, and would be collected concurrent with the annual vehicle registration renewal fee.

If such a High Violator County tax system were instituted at a mere $20 per vehicle per year, Johnson County drivers alone could likely fund the Highway Patrol's annual statewide fuel budget.

bad_dog 5 years, 8 months ago

"And guess what they speed. It is hard to catch a speeder if you go the speed limit. Guess you didn't think about that. LOL"

I guess you learn something new every day - LE officers locating speeders from behind by speeding themselves. Doesn't that explanation seem a bit illogical to you? They just drive at high speeds hoping to catch a possibly non-existent, yet to be identified speeder from behind? I guess I was laboring under the misconception they also used radar/laser on people going in the opposite direction or in either direction while the officer is parked. Any troopers out there want to weigh in on this topic?

I don't believe I have ever been passed by a speeding trooper that then pulled someone over unless the officer had already targeted that particular speeder and I average more than 25K per year on the interstate system. I have been passed many times by all forms of LE, but assumed they were late getting somewhere or just felt like going faster-most of the same reasons other people speed. I don't like it either and believe it is the ultimate hypocrisy, but your only recourse is to notify the appropriate dispatcher or write the responsible agency and report them by their unit or license numbers. I wouldn't expect any adverse consequences for the officer, but it might at least give you the satisfaction of bringing it to their attention.

Despite the general professionalism exhibited by KHP, I have, however, seen some pretty egregious conduct by local and county LE personnel. Things like illegal u-turns, illegal parking, speeding, or using their emergency lights in rush hour traffic in KC just so they could get the the congestion to pull over so they could more quickly get to an exit and pull into a convenience store for coffee. I know that is why this particular officer did this because I went to the same store to get gas. He was still in the store chatting up the gal at the cash register when I went in to pay.

bad_dog 5 years, 8 months ago

"If they did actual investigative work, contributing to the solution of real crimes like burglary, robbery, murder, kidnapping, etc. I'd be a lot more concerned about cutting back their activities."

I don't believe KHP typically has much involvement in or responsibility for investigating burglaries, robberies, murders or kidnappings unless they occur on, or the perpetrators are captured after the crime while traveling on state highways. I'm not saying KHP never gets involved in such investigations, however, I believe the primary responsibility for such activities falls into the jurisdiction of local/county or other state/Fed LE officials. I believe the KHP is primarily charged with enforcing traffic laws and ensuring the safety of persons traveling on state highways, however, they may assist in other LE activities. They also conduct drug searches on stopped vehicles, provide security at the state capital and investigate traffic accidents. Aren't those important activities too?

bangaranggerg 5 years, 8 months ago

I thought the method they had already adopted of giving chickensh*t tickets was keeping them well in the black. Guess not.

purplesage 5 years, 8 months ago

Now this economic thing is getting serious. Next thing your know, schools will make cuts in the athletic budget.

Hey KSVoter - "do as I say, not as I do" applies not only to talking on the phone but to obeying traffic laws, starting with speed limits, turn signal indicators and complete stops at intersections.

Sean Livingstone 5 years, 8 months ago

"KansasVoter (Anonymous) says…

That's a laugh! Literally half of the law enforcement vehicles that I pass have the driver talking on a cell phone. I guess that this is one of those “do as I say, not as I do” kind of requests."

I don't find it contradicting. Law enforcers are allowed to use weapons (you're not), they're supposed to communicate with one another on the job (and not talk to family or friends, remember most of the cellphone calls from drivers are for friends), they're allowed to speed and they learn how to speed and catch criminals and speeders. They need to do what they are tasked to do to protect our lives. Please differentiate both... a duty and for fun.

Sean Livingstone 5 years, 8 months ago

"salad (Anonymous) says…

Photo radar + ticket-in-the-mail = cost savings + impartial + real impact on road safety + MUCH safer for officers"

Just look at Kansas City speed light camera. It's to protect us. Yet, it's funded by the drivers who violate the rules. And they cannot collect revenue and have to stop. You'll see more collisions after the stoplight camera is removed. For those who cry civil right, individual right, constitution and socialism. Our law enforcement may become so restricted, they can no longer do their work effectively, which means.... our safety will be compromised.

Sure, I think your solutions are great! But people will start asking question: Where do we get our money... tax hikes... and people will start crying foul... socialism.

cozy 5 years, 8 months ago

topflight…

Do you realize that a Charger is $25,585 and your holy Tahoe is $36,965? Why do we need to spend the extra $11,380 for an SUV, instead of the Charger? Boo hoo about catching a speeder, why dont they just continue to sit in the median or on an on ramp to get people? Why do you always have to drive around? -Unless you are going to a car that has its hazards on or something to that effect?

purplesage 5 years, 8 months ago

OK. Let's distinguish between duty and fun. All of the above mentioned duties of law enforcement are presumed upon regularly. There is a huge difference between purusit of a criminal and pursuit of a Big Mac. They just don't use the lights and siren on the way to the restauarnt and granted, don't go quite as fast. But let's not get started on the ignorance of pursuit for trivial reasons.

Keeping and bearing arms is a Constitutional right in this nation. I choose not to keep any but I could. And under limited circumstances, I could use a firearm as well.

Driving home tonight, I saw the latest KHP gas-saver - a 14/19 MPG Chevrolet Tahoe making a traffic stop in Lecompton. What do they need with a beast like that?

A huge cloud of dust rose up before me on HWY 24. Out of that dust emerged a KHP car, hanging a U. He had totally torn up the brand new shoulder. The little Chevy S-10 he was after already had pulled over. The same idiot took a Mustang patrol car cross country through a corn field. It is this kind of excess that creates cynicism among the public they are sworn to serve and protect.

purplesage 5 years, 8 months ago

City Highway mileage ratings according to EPA

Charger 18 / 26 Crown Vic 16 / 24 Tahoe 14 / 20

Sean Livingstone 5 years, 8 months ago

"purplesage,

Keeping and bearing arms is a Constitutional right in this nation. I choose not to keep any but I could. And under limited circumstances, I could use a firearm as well."

I'm not sure if your posting is for me, but I have to reply.

Bearing arm and using arm... two different thing. You cannot pull out a gun like a police man to force someone down. You can use it for self defense only. Police don't use it for self-defense alone.

"Driving home tonight, I saw the latest KHP gas-saver - a 14/19 MPG Chevrolet Tahoe making a traffic stop in Lecompton. What do they need with a beast like that?"

Outrun anyone. See clearer. Many many reasons. Those reasons are not valid for common citizens like us.

"A huge cloud of dust rose up before me on HWY 24. Out of that dust emerged a KHP car, hanging a U. He had totally torn up the brand new shoulder. The little Chevy S-10 he was after already had pulled over. The same idiot took a Mustang patrol car cross country through a corn field. It is this kind of excess that creates cynicism among the public they are sworn to serve and protect."

Some do abuse their authority. Those must be put behind bars or resign from their jobs. That's why they have cameras on board. 1% of the police are bad folks, doesn't mean you cannot trust the other 99%.

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