The Lakeland Police Department’s uniformed patrol vehicles are going to look a little different soon. As the current black-and-white cars reach the end of their service lives, they’ll be replaced with all-black vehicles with modernized graphics.
Police Chief Sam Taylor told the City Commission on Monday that Lakeland can save about $3,000 per vehicle by having the cars be a solid color.
“A lot of people don’t know that you can’t order a black-and-white car from the factory,” Taylor said. “You either have to order all-black and then send it directly to the paint shop to have the doors painted white, or you have to order all-white and send it to the paint shop and have the fenders and such painted black.”
Taylor said he was talking about the paint issue with Assistant Chief Hans Lehman.
“It sounded kind of dumb to me, and Hans and I started talking about it. He said, ‘Well, we can probably save about $3,000 if we don’t paint them.’ And I said, ‘Well then let’s not paint them. Let’s either go all-black or all-white.’”
Taylor said the department had been leaning toward all-white vehicles, but then an opportunity arose.
“We had 35 [Chevrolet] Tahoes fall into our lap from a sheriff’s office in Georgia that they weren’t able to buy,” Taylor said.
With supply chain issues still plaguing the auto industry, it was too good a deal to pass up. Working with city Finance Director Mike Brossart, the department was able to find the funds to buy the vehicles a bit earlier than planned.
“They just happened to be black. And I said, ‘Well, I guess we’re going with black then.’ So black it is,” Taylor said. “But it’s about $3,000 [savings] per vehicle, which I think is a lot.”
The chief showed commissioners a photograph of a sleek black SUV with angled letters saying Lakeland Police in silver text with a blue outline, the department’s seal above the front tire, an American flag between the quarter window and rear window, and the motto “Commitment to Excellence” in script toward the back.
“That’s going to be the new graphics package,” he said. “We’re still tweaking that a little bit, but that’s probably what it’s gonna look like.”
In the presentation, Taylor also mentioned some other developments:
- Staffing: The City has recruited candidates for all 21 of its open positions. Incoming officers include seven U.S. veterans. There are eight women and 13 men; nine are white, nine are Hispanic and three are Black.
- Cold cases: The department has created a part-time position to investigate cold cases. It will be filled by retired LPD Sgt. Gary Gross, a former auto-theft detective who served as the department’s public information officer and has consulted on film and television scripts as a technical adviser.
- Dash cams: 120 new in-car cameras with license-plate reading technology have been installed. (An additional 45 cameras were held back to be installed in new vehicles later this year.)
- Body-worn cameras: All LPD public safety employees from front-line officers to executive staff have been issued body-worn cameras.
- Evidence.com: The department’s Axon Evidence.com digital evidence management system is now fully operational, with over 76,000 pieces of digital media uploaded so far (a total of 29.2 TB of data).
- Tasers: 250 new Tasers have been issued to officers, replacing the department’s previous units that employed 10-year-old technology.
- Cell phones: Cell phones have been issued to all sworn officers, enabling them to upload photos and videos from the scene without bringing thumb drives back to the station.
- Video training library: The department is creating a digital library of examples of good police work that can be used for training purposes.
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