High gas prices now impacting first responders

AP Photo/Jeff Chiu

Gas prices are getting ridiculous. My wife filled up on Thursday, then spent a fair chunk of her first hour home complaining about those prices.

I can’t say I blame her. I’m just glad I work from home.

Many Americans aren’t so lucky. If there’s been an upside, it’s only in that the problem isn’t worse. Unfortunately, due to those gas prices, it’s getting worse.

Gas prices have become so high that one Michigan police department says they have “blown through their fuel budget” and cannot respond to all 9-1-1 calls in person, ABC News reported Thursday.

“Isabella County Sheriff’s Office is feeling the pain at the pump as well,” Sheriff Michael Main said in a statement. “We have exhausted what funds were budgeted for fuel with several months to go before the budget reset.”

“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,” he said.

I feel for the sheriff. I truly do.

I also think he’s made about the best call he can under the circumstances. Budgets are what they are and there’s only so much you can do when the money starts to run out. You can pull from other places, but those needs are still needs, too.

That said, I have concerns.

What may start as a call that isn’t an emergency may well end up becoming an emergency call before you know it.

Further, where do we go from here? After all, gas prices aren’t exactly showing any signs of dropping anytime soon. Quite the contrary, actually. Not only is the lack of Russian oil driving up prices internationally, but the fact that domestic production has been throttled over the last couple of years sure hasn’t helped.

This suggests this is just the first of many departments that will have to struggle with the rising cost of fuel.

While I think the sheriff is doing the best he can, and I also think the worst-case scenarios are unlikely to occur, it’s only a matter of time before other tough choices have to be made, such as limiting patrols or adjusting patrol patterns to minimize fuel usage. If that happens, it may make it easier for criminals to commit crimes, many of which are likely to turn violent.

Let’s go, Brandon, right?

Regardless of how we got here, it’s well beyond time to start taking steps to increase our supply so none of this actually happens.

We’ve got enough crime right now. The last thing we need is gas prices making that even worse on top of everything else it’s doing to the country.

It’s just too bad I don’t see anyone actually doing anything to address this particular problem. They’re all too busy pretending this is really all Russia’s fault despite prices increasing prior to the invasion of Ukraine. But hey, the police don’t have gas, so why quibble about little things like the truth, right?