One of California’s bankrupt cities is struggling to keep its police and firefighters in service. The two public safety departments have no gasoline in the pumps at their stations, because companies refuse to service those in bankruptcy.
Stockton, which filed for bankruptcy protection last week, said its police can no longer pay its gas vendor the money it owes. After running out of gas last week and finding a way to refill it, the city has empty stations for the second time in a week.
“The PD and fire dept. are both out of gas and the gas companies will not service us because we r in BK,” said a text message sent from police to the local TV station FOX40 last Monday. “The gas vendor is owed money and will no longer service to us.”
Although the gas company, Stockton Petroleum, said it did not leave the city without gas when it ended its contact, city officials told the news channel that the city had been out of gas for a while, making it difficult for police officers to do their jobs.
“They’re ready to go to work and they go to fill their cars up. And they can’t do that,” Det. Mark McLaughlin said on behalf of Stockton police officers in a FOX40 interview.
Fighting crime is now becoming increasingly difficult in a city that’s running out of vehicles for its police officers. Stockton has seen 38 murders since January. With one of the highest murder rates in the United States, and a higher murder per capita rate than Chicago, Stockton is in desperate need to keep its police officers working.
To keep public safety officers in service, Stockton’s police and firegfighters are now filling up their tanks at the city corp yard, which holds gasoline intended for other city vehicles.
Commuting to the yard takes time that could be better spent on the street, McLaughlin said.
“We're wasting more time getting fuel… We should be out doing our job, handling calls and stuff like that,” he said.
With a short staff and little gas, the police force is worried that things will spiral out of control.
During a nationwide recession, Stockton continues to run on empty both in terms of gas and service officers. It is becoming a prime example of the detrimental effects of bankruptcy that could be facing many more California cities.