IMPD bears brunt of hike in gas prices

Surcharge will impact 1,500 police officers

INDIANAPOLIS - Indianapolis police officers will soon start paying for their own gas and the news of the fuel surcharge is getting mixed reactions.

Beginning the first of the year, the Department of Public Safety will begin deducting a fuel surcharge from the paycheck of most officers with the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department.

The talk of a gas surcharge has been in the air for at least a couple of years. At one point, the Fraternal Order of Police even voiced their support, but the timing of the surcharge has now fueled their anger and their opposition.

The FOP considers the police car another tool, one that not only gives taxpayers a heightened sense of visibility, but security as well.

In the days when gasoline was $4 a gallon, the FOP was in favor of helping out. But the times and the prices of gas have changed.

"We think it's a little disingenuous to, on the same backs that won't honor a pay raise they negotiated and agreed to, that they can take $1.3 million out of your pocket," FOP President Sgt. Bill Owensby said.

The gasoline surcharge will put upwards of $1.3 million back into the fuel and maintenance budget for the Department of Public Safety. It will impact more than 1,500 police officers and a handful of firefighters.

Officers who only drive their cars to and from work won't pay the fuel surcharge, but officers who use their vehicles to get to part-time jobs will pay $65 monthly.

Officers who live out of the county will pay $81 per month, and officers who live out of the county with part-time jobs will pay $146 a month.

Officials with the Department of Public Safety say the surcharge will help offset as much as 10 percent of IMPD’s fuel and maintenance costs

"I can see that it's an inconvenience to the police officer. But I think even they can see the value. We tried to make it a livable amount so that it doesn't negatively impact people and I think it will be fine with our recruiting efforts," DPS Deputy Director Valerie Washington said.

The surcharge will hit at a time when the city says it can't honor a three percent pay raise it promised officers Jan 1, the same day the city will begin deducting the gas charge from their paychecks.

"Unfortunately, it's going to happen. It's happening January first, again, when officers are not going to get the raises they contracted for. So, it's something we're going to have to deal with," Owensby said.

City officials said the surcharge amounts to the price of one fill-up every month.

The Marion County Sheriff’s Department previously had a fuel surcharge program, but has since suspended it. In light of the IMPD program, the sheriff said he will now reconsider the program.

Follow Jack Rinehart on Twitter: @jackrinehart6

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