Idle Thoughts On Gas Guzzling Copper

Guest opinion by

Today a Boise Police Officer (a pretty young gal with a ponytail, but that’s irrelevant) pulled up next door at the “Headstart” school, in her marked SUV cop car. Left the motor running. (A sign in the next parking spot over – NO-IDLE ZONE – SHUT OFF YOUR MOTOR.) Walked inside – she was in there for a good hour. (I was just outside, doing final prep for 2023 flood irrigation, so I observed the whole time.) She and a Headstart lady walked out, and conversed for another 5-8 minutes outside. Next to her motor-running SUV. So it was sitting running, with nobody inside, for over an hour.

I went in to get my camera – was gonna snap a photo of the car, the conversants, and the sign. Alas, by the time I got back out, the cop SUV was gone.

There may be a good reason why they keep the motor running. Hopefully a better reason then, “Cops don’t like hot cars in the summer, and cold cars in the winter.” Because that could probably be said for all of us… but just the same we shut off our motors. Some folks may do it to save the planet – I do it to save $. Maybe the City of Boise likes to save money and Mother Earth, but not enough to make Boise’s Finest suffer in a warm car.

EDITOR NOTE–This happened May 12. If any BPD supervisors or IA wish to inform the errant officer of her misdeeds. the GUARDIAN can offer contact info to the author.

Nearly 15 years ago the GUARDIAN revealed a series of idle incidents similar to this one which prompted the following official policy at BPD–anmd ALL city departments. We don’t know if they have abandoned the policy or if the coppers simply ignore it. It isn’t a race issue, but perhaps the Washington lawyer-investigators are needed.

Vehicle idling gets zero miles per gallon; unnecessary idling wastes fuel and pollutes. Running an engine at low speed (idling) also causes additional wear on internal parts compared to driving at regular speeds. The break-even point for shutting off and restarting gasoline engines or leaving it to idle is 30 seconds – from the point of view of both emissions and fuel consumption. This restriction does not apply to congested traffic, city driving or traffic controls.

Air quality is a critical issue in our area. One of the leading sources of air pollutants of concern is from vehicle tailpipe exhaust. The City of Boise needs to be a leader in reducing sources of these air pollutants. Additionally, the rising cost of fuel makes it imperative that the City of Boise focus on fuel efficiency and cease vehicle idling when not warranted by the situation.

Effective immediately, unless exempted in the following section, no City vehicle or piece of equipment is to be idled in a non-emergency situation. The operator of the vehicle/equipment is to turn-off the unit and the keys are to be removed from the ignition.

The following situations will allow idling, as needed:
A. Emergency vehicles at scenes where lights, Power Take Offs, and/or other accessories are needed to accomplish the mission;
B. Police vehicles working traffic enforcement details;
C. Department of Public Works, Department of Parks and Recreation and Boise Airport vehicles at job sites requiring the use of emergency lights, Power Take Offs, and/or other accessories to accomplish their assignment. Planning and Development, PDS Inspector – 2005 or older and non-hybrid vehicles only, while performing inspections.
D. Inclement weather situations and the supervisor authorizes the use of the vehicle/equipment heater-defroster for the work crew’s comfort according to the guidelines listed below;

1. If the outside temperature is: Above 32 degrees F: 5 minute maximum
2. Between -10 and 32 degrees F; 15 minute maximum
3. Below -10 degrees F: as necessary

NOTE: Operators of vehicle/equipment and supervisors will be judicious in the idling of units at emergency scenes and job sites. If not all the units at the scene/site need to be idling, those units must be turned-off and the keys removed from the ignition. Each vehicle/equipment operator will be responsible for the idling operation of their unit and will have the unit keys in their possession to ensure that crewmembers do not arbitrarily violate the policy without the operator’s knowledge.

Supervisors in each department/division will be responsible for the adherence and enforcement of the idling policy. Violations of the policy will be documented as to the vehicle/equipment operator, vehicle class code, location, date and time, weather conditions, and circumstances of the violation.

The vehicle/equipment operator will be informed of the violation by the supervisor at the time of the infraction.

Department Heads will be responsible to ensure this standard of conduct in the use of City vehicles and equipment. Employees have the responsibility to abide by this regulation, violation of which can subject them to progressive disciplinary action.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. It is not unique to Boise. I saw the same thing in Garden City last week. Corner of Sultana and Duxbury. Cop was out on the Greenbelt. 8 in the morning so no need for heat or AC.

  2. Every single person should turn off the AC in their office when gone for an hour to lunch. How about the city council raise tax rates to afford all the tow trucks needed with the computer drains the battery?

  3. Idling a public car not only wastes our tax-payer dollars, but also is totally unhealthy. I can remember years ago when the air in Boise was terrible for at least two years until the condition made the front pages of The Idaho Statesman for a long time. Finally, Boise people became more aware of what they were causing by allowing their cars to sit and sit while idling. We should be smarter than that !!!

  4. western guy
    May 13, 2023, 8:48 pm

    No one has yet asked if the visit & conversation was official or personal business…

    EDITOR NOTE–It wouldn’t matter. Coppers don’t even give address for bank robberies, so good luck trying to obtain a day care address.

  5. I think we have bigger fish to fry in so far as waste at the city. There are millions and millions of dollars of waste including the salary of our scandal-ridden mayor.

  6. The reason for the visit?
    May 19, 2023, 7:33 pm

    Was it official business?

    EDITOR NOTE–Regardless of personal or official, wasting gas is against policy. GUARDIAN suggests some incentives to see which copper is the best when it comes to gas use. Idle gets “0” mpg.

    So the copper with the best mpg on their vehicles gets a prize?
    Not too long along BPD, maybe during Chief Masterson’s time, awards a pizza to the copper with the most DUI arrests. There’s a good way to run a city. But then the lazy coppers like the recent outted racist working on BPD for the past for the past 20 years is not going to care about any incentives- unless of course it arresting Democrats.

  8. western guy
    May 22, 2023, 4:40 pm

    I’ll bet you DUI, speeding, stop sign/red light violations and other ‘aggressive driving’ citations are waaaaay down in Boise. PD will say they are overwhelmed with ‘calls for service’. uh huh.

  9. McLean is worse than bieter
    May 25, 2023, 8:46 am

    You think this is bad. How about when you see fire employees drive fire trucks to grocery stores to do their shopping on our dime with our diesel because it’s too hard for them to bring food from home on their FOUR DAYS OFF.

  10. western guy
    May 31, 2023, 7:26 pm

    And now Da Mayor wants to add 1 firefighter to each engine. This way 3 can do their shopping (try Winco on Fairview) while the rookie monitors the pollution from the diesel engine running.

    Support your local fire union!

  11. This is an old argument about cops and their vehicles idling. I do not know what the actual electrical load is within a police vehicle but the argument for idling is that they need this to keep their battery fully charged all the time. Nothing like needing to leave anywhere in a hurry to find the battery will not power the starter for a quick get away. That is the risk they offer to support idling their vehicles. With the price of gasoline I support shutting the vehicles off when not in use or a real need to keep them idling.

Get the Guardian by email

Enter your email address: