POLICE OFFICERS REPLACE PATROL CARS WITH GOLF CARTS
CHESTER, S.C. - Chester police officers have found a way to get 60 miles to the gallon and meet more people face to face out on patrol. This week, they're driving around town in a golf cart. It's a test run, but Chief Mike Brown said he hopes it will make a big difference in law enforcement there.
"We'll be able to stop and talk to people," Brown said. "This is about getting more involved in the community, in neighborhoods in Chester." The city has seen a growing problem with street gangs, drugs and violent crime. Residents like Corliss Chisholm said it this helps police focus on those problems, then it's a good thing. "There's a lot of murders going on that have not been solved," Chisholm said. "They need to get in and try to solve those murders because too many people are being killed, and nobody knows why." The long-term plan is for two officers per shift to park their patrol cars and climb aboard the golf cart. They'll answer calls, work wrecks and do their normal jobs while being more accessible to the people they serve. Brown said he's not worried about safety because even in patrol cars, officers still have to get out to do their jobs and to answer calls.
Another reason for trying out golf carts is gas prices. "We burn in the neighborhood of $100 of gas per car, per day, Brown said That adds up to about $1,000 per day for the department. The golf cart tops out at 35 miles an hour, and its gas tank was still above half full after two days of driving. "Our gas budget has really blown up," Brown said. "We're doing a lot to conserve." The Chester City Council will get a close-up view of the new mode of police transportation Thursday night before the council meeting.
Brown plans to park it outside the meeting hall. He said he hopes the council will approve the funds to buy one, possibly two. They cost anywhere from $5,000 to $8,000. The golf carts draw a lot of stares, smiles and some raised thumbs. Residents like Richard Hall said it's going to help more people meet police officers and get to know them. "Wonderful idea. Makes a good presence," Hall said.
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Reprinted from www.wsoctv.com June 24, 2008