The Atlanta Police Department will roll out an updated design for its vehicles, as well as a take-home vehicle program for officers. Mayor Andre Dickens made the announcement at a press conference on Nov. 2.
Take-Home Program Benefits
Officers voiced a desire for a take-home vehicle program, Dickens explained. It doesn't just have benefits to the officers, either. Dickens said seeing vehicles parked around the community brings people a sense of safety and security.
"It's a crime-deterrent, first and foremost," Dickens said. "If a would-be criminal were to see a police car parked in a driveway or inside a parking deck, they're much less likely to commit a crime."
Dickens pointed to research suggesting that take-home programs may also extend the life of the vehicle, because officers are more likely to take care of their vehicles when they are taking them home. Response times can also be quicker, leading officers to put fewer miles on vehicles to get to calls. A study posted to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement website further explains these benefits.
Recruitment and Retention
The take-home program will also attract potential officer candidates, as well as keep existing ones in the department, Dickens said.
"If we want to continue to recruit and retain the best police force in the nation, we need policies like this to remain competitive," he explained.
Atlanta Police were able to secure the first 40 new police vehicles needed for the program.
Vehicles Get a New Look
New police department vehicles will no longer be blue, which is the color the department has used for 20 years, Police Chief Darin Schierbaum said. That's due to supply chain constraints. The department instead opted for black ones. The black paint will also be easier to touch up when there is damage, due to it being more regularly available. The new vehicles will be Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles.
Adminstration partnered with 24 students at the Savannah College of Art and Design -- Atlanta, to come up with the design. The department voted on multiple designs, choosing one with a red and blue striped design. The six stripes represent the six zones that make up the city. The city seal, which has a phoenix, is also included. The six stripes are also meant to be a representation of the feathers of the phoenix. Schierbaum said this symbolized that Atlanta is cutting-edge and a city of innovation. The stripes wrap around the vehicle, representing the connectivity and community of the city.
Crunching the Numbers
Administration said the vehicles range from $60,000-$65,000 including the cost of upfitting. The first 40 vehicles will go to officers who are currently in the department, who live in the city limits, and who are 911 response officers. The program will expand as the department gets more vehicles. Eventually, the department hopes to have enough vehicles for each officer. The city has 70 new cars in its possession, but most of them are still being upfitted for patrol use.
Christy Grimes is associate editor at Bobit, working on Government Fleet and School Bus Fleet magazines.