City looks to replace entire fleet of all white patrol cars
Gilroy – You may have seen it already. You may have even done a doubletake. The first of the Gilroy Police Department’s new cruisers is on the streets and there’s something a little different about it.
The lone squad car is a bit of a black sheep among its all-white companions.
“Everyone knows what a black and white is,” said Sgt. Kurt Svardal. “Everyone knows that is a police car and that’s real positive.”
During the day the familiar markings give away the identity of the driver – and that’s the way police like it. At night, the black front and rear conceal – and they like that too.
“It does present a very professional image. The white cars are nice, but I think the black and whites look very polished,” Svardal said.
The new black and whites vehicles are replacing the all white older model Ford Crown Victorias and Chevy Tahoes that are close to retirement.
Currently, there is one black and white Crown Victoria on Gilroy streets, with three other black and white patrol vehicles getting emergency equipment installed. Twelve black and whites vehicles should join the department’s fleet of almost two dozen vehicles by the end of the year .
The lifespan of a Gilroy Police cruiser is about 100,000 miles, or about four years. At that point the patrol cars begin experiencing mechanical problems.
“They have to be completely reliable,” Svardal said. “We can’t have them break down. They have to be out on the street.”
Another difference with the new patrol cars is the lights.
With a laptop computer and digital camera always running on the inside, in addition to the flashing lights on the outside, the older patrol cars were experiencing a power strain.
“There’s just so much electricity in the cars, they weren’t able to charge fast enough,” Svardal said.
The new cars use on average 60 watts less when the emergency lights are on.
Years ago the police department selected all white vehicles because air conditioners weren’t as efficient as they are today and in the hot summer sun, officers would broil.
But times have changed.
After a few officers suggested a new design, police chiefs looked into the cost of making the switch, Svardal said.
Fiscally, there was no difference to alter the exterior color so the request was granted.
“We asked for everybody’s opinion for what they liked best – this is what they came up with,” Svardal said.