Police chief Rodney Garnett is working to lower the division's fuel costs to comply with a request from Mayor Don Schonhardt.

Police chief Rodney Garnett is working to lower the division's fuel costs to comply with a request from Mayor Don Schonhardt.

Garnett said the mayor didn't give him specific numerical goals. He said police will use several measures to decrease the fuel budget, including using unmarked vehicles that are more fuel-efficient.

Another fuel-saving technique is for officers to park their cruisers and spend more time on foot and bicycles.

"We've been doing bicycle and foot patrols for years," he said. "I'm encouraging that more."

Garnett said he also wants to use district patrolling, with officers assigned to more compact areas. He said this will reduce incidents when officers must travel from one end of the city to another. He added another advantage is intensifying the amount of protection an officer can give.

Garnett said he's also looking to into mobile data reporting. He said this involves officers being able to file reports from the computers in their cars. He said this initiative is "down the road."

Deputy Service Director Ron Cottrill said the city budgeted about $135,000 in fuel costs for the police department for 2008.

Garnett said the division currently has 16 cruisers which use regular gasoline.

Schonhardt said he was pleased with Garnett's response to his request.

"He came up with a program that I think is a pretty decent program," he said. "I think that it shows that there is definitely an effort on the part of the police department to do their part to conserve energy during this time when our fuel costs have more than doubled from last year."

Schonhardt first announced his intention to refine the city's energy policies during his annual state of the city address in March.

"One of the challenges that I said ... we faced ... was that we have to address the energy issue," Schonhardt said.

He said the directive applies to all city departments.

"I've talked to John Hall (director of lands and buildings) about doing an energy audit of all of the different city-owned facilities. I've talked to the chief about what we could do on fuel consumption for the police department since they are one of our biggest users of petroleum products and I also talked to the service department about what they might be able to do."

The city bought a hybrid SUV in 2007 and has money in the 2008 budget for a second.