I had to travel to Roanoke Rapids this morning and worked there until this afternoon. After leaving the cable TV plant there, I stopped by Starbucks around the corner for a "caramel macchiatto". That is an indulgence I allow myself from time to time. When I pulled in to the parking lot, there were three North Carolina Highway Patrol vehicles in the lot. Two were marked and one was unmarked. Hey, everyone needs a coffee break from time to time.
I noticed, however, that four SHP troopers were all inside and their three vehicles were still sitting in the lot running. I realize the upside of that, in that the vehicle will stay cool inside when it is 93 degrees outside, the vehicle doesn't have to be started in order to respond to an emergency, and nobody is likely to attempt to steal an SHP vehicle.
What bothers me is that three patrol vehicles idling while gas is nearly $2.80 a gallon just seems wasteful. Again, I don't begrudge anyone a coffee break...I was doing the same. If all breaks are done the same way with every SHP officer across the state, I do believe that we are looking at a way to save significant tax dollars by simply shutting the unused vehicle OFF. I look at this keeping in mind the emergency response paradigm. I used to work for a police department and drove marked units, too.
I do wonder, however, about the wisdom of four SHP officers taking a break with 3 patrol cars all at the same time. We have been hearing a lot on TV and radio just in the past few days about the lack of SHP staff and units patrolling the highways. That was not a good PR move today. By the way, I do stop by that Starbucks every once in a while. Not real often, but every few months, perhaps. More often than not, I see a SHP vehicle in the parking lot and a trooper in the shop. I am giving the benefit of the doubt here and chalking that up to coincidence.
I know the sort of hours the SHP tend to work, having worked their 12 hour, 4 day rotation schedule for a while. They see a lot of "windshield time". I won't say that they have the toughest job in law enforcement, since I believe that probably the local sheriff's department or municipal departments actually work harder with more responsibilities, less recognition, and less visibility. Many troopers are certainly top notch law enforcement officers and deserve my thanks and respect, which they have.