To the Editor:
Without getting into the fuel costs per gallon for local government being much lower than the general public pays at a local service station, permit me to respond to Mr. Tristam’s letter (“Emergency vehicles: Doing more with less taxpayer money,” March 17).
When public officials study cost-saving measures, they have to look at both sides of the issue. Sometimes, what may appear to be cost savings can actually have serious unintended consequences. This is the case in law enforcement where time is often of the essence.
In rural areas, response time to emergencies is far more critical than in more urban centers because resources are already spread very thin. I can name many instances when having a fully equipped, take-home vehicle saved someone’s life during a medical emergency and other occasions when having such a vehicle resulted in the apprehension of persons in the process of committing a crime or crimes.
There are frequent examples of law enforcement personnel going to and from work who take action to apprehend errant drivers thus likely saving a life. These incidents cannot be safely resolved in a personal vehicle.
One needs to look at the fact that a well-trained law enforcement officer is such at all times, not just when “on the clock.” He/she may be out to dinner, shopping or watching a little league game, all of which is gratis exercise of his skills of trained observation in the interest of public safety.
Career public safety management knows where dollars can be saved and the vast majority of elected officials know how to save tax dollars without compromising public safety. What cost public safety? What cost even one life?
Eskil S. Danielson