SOS: finding solutions for a troubled Earth

Criminal justice agencies step up to the environmental plate

     "What our framework seeks to do is create a baseline for fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions," Murray says. "The baseline becomes the starting point for a more cost-effective and environmentally friendly fleet."

     Murray says agencies don't have to focus on revolutionary, overnight changes. Even small differences can have a positive impact both environmentally and budget wise.

     "Select more fuel-efficient vehicles," he advises. "You don't necessarily have to go with hybrids."

     Murray points out that if you take your present fleet's miles per gallon and purchase cars with a rating of 1 to 1.5 mpg higher, your savings over a year's time could add up to thousands of dollars, depending on fleet size how often patrol cars are on the road; Think about the greenhouse gases that won't be emitted.

     Another good bet — try not to allow vehicles to idle as much. Obviously, idling can't be completely avoided, but whenever possible, officers should turn off the engine. Murray also says that paying attention to maintenance can help keep the air cleaner because a well-maintained fleet performs more efficiently.

     With automobile manufacturers designing more fuel-efficient models each year, the choices are becoming more varied and the public more concerned with the resources we're burning.

A better tomorrow

     As in the private sector, law enforcement should realize that its investment in the future is a lot like a retirement account in which you stash money away for a time when you need it. If you don't save, you have nothing to live on down the road. And if people don't become better stewards of the environment, the future could be very dim, indeed.

     But, due to the nature of law enforcement's mission, many of the options available to private companies and individuals are difficult to fit into a more environmentally friendly format. Manufacturers are just now finding ways to help make police agencies green.

     Change, although it is coming, will be slow and deliberate, but there's no doubt it will come. Environmentalists say that's a given. And, just as community policing seemed like a radical direction 30 years ago, driving hybrid cars, working with alternative and renewable energy sources and moving from a tree-based to digital records systems all go a long way toward workable solutions.

     A 12-year veteran of police work, Carole Moore has served in patrol, forensics, crime prevention and criminal investigations. She may be reached at

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