Skyrocketing gas prices have already begun to take a dramatic toll on public safety, as one Michigan county announced it must limit in-person responses to 911 calls since their department has already exhausted its fuel budget.
The Sheriff’s Department of Isabella County, which is located just 80 miles northeast of Grand Rapids, announced that high gas prices had caused officers to blow through their annual fuel budget months before it would reset.
“We have exhausted what funds were budgeted for fuel with several months to go before the budget reset,” the sheriff’s office explained.
ABC: Gas prices are so high that one Michigan county’s police department has “blown through their fuel budget” and will no longer respond to every 911 call in-person. pic.twitter.com/oC2o5tcCsi
— RNC Research (@RNCResearch) June 9, 2022
Sheriff Michael Main said that in order to manage the budget shortfall, deputies were going to be forced to change the way they operated — particularly how they responded to 911 calls.
“I have instructed the deputies to attempt to manage whatever calls are acceptable over the phone,” Main said, clarifying that if deputies believed a situation required them to handle the situation on scene they would still do that. “This would be non-in-progress calls, non-life-threatening calls, calls that do not require evidence collection or documentation.”
“I want to assure the community that safety is our primary goal, and we will continue to respond to those types of calls,” Main added, noting that regular patrols would continue despite the budget issue.
Michigan State Police also issued a statement on Wednesday, noting that gas prices — over $5 per gallon in many parts of the state — were also impacting their budget. However, they said that in order to defray those costs, they were calling on state lawmakers to approve a budget increase of $2.8 million.
According to Gas Buddy — an app that tracks gas prices across the country to help consumers find the nearest gas stations as well as the lowest available prices in a given area — the national average surpassed $5 per gallon on Wednesday.
— GasBuddy (@GasBuddy) June 9, 2022
Gas prices have jumped another $0.66 in the last month alone, Gas Buddy reports. The company’s head of petroleum analysis, Patrick De Haan explained, “It’s been one kink after another this year, and worst of all, demand doesn’t seem to be responding to the surge in gas prices, meaning there is a high probability that prices could go even higher in the weeks ahead. It’s a perfect storm of factors all aligning to create a rare environment of rapid price hikes. The situation could become even worse should there be any unexpected issues at the nation’s refineries or a major hurricane that impacts oil production or refineries this summer.”