Police cars will be black and white | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Police cars will be black and white

William Ferchland

Dan Thrift / Tahoe Daily Tribune / Officer Shannon Laney will be among the first to hit the streets in the city's new patrol cars. The black-and-white 2005 Chevrolet Impala is a return to the more traditional look of police cars.

They have cop motors, cop shocks, cop tires, cop suspensions.

But the six Chevy Impalas and four sport utility vehicles the South Lake Tahoe Police Department ordered are newer and have more extras than the old police car Elwood Blues drove in 1980 film “Blues Brothers.”

Two of the 2005 Chevy Impalas, painted black and white with “South Lake Tahoe Police” on the front doors, were delivered to the department Wednesday while the remaining four are scheduled to arrive sometime next week.

Each car costs $35,000, about $15,000 less than their SUV counterparts, and boasts front-wheel drive and a 200-horsepower, V6 engine. The cars get 20 miles per gallon in the city and 30 miles per gallon on the highway.

The new cruisers will replace old Ford Crown Victorias and Ford Expedition SUVs.

Lt. Terry Daniels estimated the sedans will be used 90 percent of the year while the four-wheeled drive SUVs while take over during inclement weather.

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“This is actually a police vehicle,” Daniels said while eyeing one of the new Impalas. He meant the custom Impalas are designed and built for the wear and tear of police work.

“We love the SUVs, but they’re expensive and I think in a lot of ways this is a better vehicle,” he said, citing the bulkiness of the boxy four-wheel drive vehicles. Emphasizing the point was one Expedition with a dent near the right tail light across from the Impala.

Four SUVs, either Ford Expeditions or Chevy Tahoes, are due in November. Around that time the rest of the fleet of four cars – two for canine officers, an Impala tested last year and an Explorer – will be painted in the black-and-white design.

Daniels said the switch will give the department a more traditional and stronger identity on the road.

“It separates us from the sheriff’s department,” said Officer Shannon Laney, referring to the similar look of the white patrol cars of the El Dorado County Sheriff’s Department.

The Impalas also have bars protecting the rear windows.

“We’ve had windows kicked out in the past by combative arrestees,” Laney said.

“It happens all the time,” Daniels added.

About $400,000 to purchase the new vehicles – and paint the old – is from Proposition 172, called the Local Public Safety Protection and Improvement Act of 1993, which designates a half-cent sales tax to public services organizations for purchases like new police prowl cars, Daniels said.

Cars are usually cycled out of department use every five years. At that time they usually have more than 100,000 miles and have the wear of a crusty sea fisherman.

“They just seem like they’re in the shop as much as the (roads),” Daniels said.