Increasing safety and decreasing cost of city patrol cars

PoliceCar ThumbAfter almost two years of planning and discussion, Calgary's citizens will begin seeing a whole new police car in their rear-view mirrors.

In a press release issued on Sept. 10, the Calgary Police Service announced that they would begin phasing out their old cruisers and replacing them with a new, more cost effective black and white vehicle.

The change came after testing a variety of prototypes over a 12-month period. Inspector Ken Thrower of the Calgary Police Service led the project in both changing out the model of the vehicles and changing the colours— from white and blue, to black and white.

"This is something that's always been on the back burner and bottom line, the executive and chief finally said 'You know what?' 'Let's test it out,'" Thrower said.

Doug King, professor in the criminal justice program at Mount Royal University, said the need to change colours wasn't the most important aspect of the change.

"Some people will like the new look simply out of a matter of aesthetics, and some will dislike the look simply out of a matter of aesthetics. The key to the issue is not the colour of the vehicle, but the safety of the vehicle."

"I think we have to take the Calgary Police Service at face value when they say there is economic benefit in going to the new black and white. When it comes to things like saving money, that's exactly what we want our public agencies to be doing," King said.

King said that the visibility of the vehicles will make a difference for a while, but they will quickly blend in as the public becomes accustomed to them.

"The real value is that it is less expensive to maintain the vehicle now," King said.

Thrower said CPS will save almost $6,000 per new vehicle, as well as cut down the time it takes to install police equipment and place decals.PoliceCar ResizeThe Calgary Police Service have already started sporting the new black and white cruisers. The Ford Interceptors are more cost effective and are designed to be easily seen by air support.

Photo courtesy of Calgary Police Service

"They can build a Ford in half the time it took to build a Dodge (Charger), and they can build the Ford (Interceptor) in a quarter of the time it took to build a Crown Vic," he said.

The move came after Ford announced the manufacturing of the Ford Crown Victoria will end - the vehicle the CPS has been using since the early 1990s. As each of the 375 Crown Victorias reaches the end of its three-to-five- year lifespan, a new black and white Ford Interceptor will replace it.

During the pilot project, testing came down to two vehicles, the Ford Interceptor and the Dodge Charger. The test was conducted based on a survey, which involved police officers driving the vehicles and providing feedback accordingly.

"About 90 per cent of officers liked the way the Ford vehicle handled," Thrower said.

"The equipment worked inside and the ergonomics factored in also. Everyone kind of liked the exterior of the Dodge but everything else in the interior they liked the Ford better."

Thrower said the new vehicles feature full reflective decaling, which can increase visibility at night and make it easier for air support to distinguish police vehicles from civilian vehicles.

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