Longwood police carpooling to save gas money could create longer response times



LONGWOOD, Fla. - Residents in the city of Longwood may have to wait longer for help if they call 911.


WFTV's Bianca Castro found out why police are now being forced to carpool to emergency calls as part of a controversial pilot program that cuts the number of patrol cars on the street by half in an effort to save gas money.

"I can understand they're trying to save money, but safety's first," said Longwood resident Lori Gattis.

The agency's budget has been slashed by nearly $1 million over the past several years.

Officials don't know how much money the program will save, but said two heads in each car are better than one anyways.

Still, fewer patrol cars on the street could mean slower response times.

"Response times could increase because of these changes, but if I had not instituted this pilot program, for factors that are out of our control, response times could increase any day," said Police Chief Troy Hickson.

He said a big perk of the plan is officer safety. Now an officer won't be alone when he or she arrives at a violent crime scene. In the past, an officer had to wait for backup to arrive before he or she could do anything.

"For a minor thing like a traffic stop, you only need one officer for that. I can't see why you would need two officers," said Gattis.

Officials told WFTV the most recent crime stats weren't available on Monday.

The police chief said if response times are negatively affected during the three-month pilot program, he will abandon the program.