By Clint Parker
Weaverville – Residents of Weaverville might have noticed a new police vehicle that’s now patrolling the streets of the town. What they may not know is the new cruiser is a hybrid.
In a press release, the Weaverville Police said the new vehicle is part of “an ongoing effort to become more efficient and reduce fuel consumption, the Town of Weaverville has obtained its first police rated hybrid vehicle made by Ford.
This is the first hybrid designed explicitly for police work in mind. Based on the Ford Explorer, Weaverville Police Department is the first agency in the region to place one in service. The new hybrids are expected to save hundreds of gallons of fuel per vehicle per year. They are rated at 24 miles per gallon, which is almost double the mileage of most police fleet vehicles. The department has two more hybrid vehicles coming.
The Tribune was able to interview Police Chief Ron Davis about the new vehicle who said that the vehicle should “save about 65 gallons” per month per vehicle.
The public should know until now, the Weaverville Police Department relied on a patchwork of old “unmarked” sport utility vehicles that were not designed nor equipped adequately for police work in inclement weather.
Not only did these vehicles consume a lot of fuel, but they were parked most of the time since they were not satisfactorily suited for police work.
Further, they were not quickly identified as a police vehicle if someone needed help, nor could they act as a deterrence to would-be violators since they were “unmarked.” Since the new Police Hybrid is an all-wheel drive, the old SUVs will be sold and actually reduce the number of fleet vehicles creating additional savings in insurance and maintenance.
“One of the things I hear all the time [from citizens] is I don’t see you guys,” said Davis. “With the vast majority of our cars white, I was wondering how our cars were standing out.”
With that in mind, Davis is going back to the “classic black & white design was incorporated to bring greater visibility and will make it instantly recognizable as a police vehicle. Additionally, the new car doors have been “wrapped” with white plastic material and not painted white. This is a cost-effective way to increase visibility. The wraps can later be removed when the vehicle is sold, thereby increasing its value.” Davis said it would also help if the town wants to transition the vehicle in another role after it’s retired from patrol.
The most significant difference, according to Weaverville Officer Joshua Birchfield, who’s been assigned the vehicle, is how quite the vehicle runs.
The cruiser is so quiet you can be standing beside it when it’s stopped and not know that it’s running. It also has a speaker mounted in the rear, which makes a noise to let bystanders know the vehicle is backing up (not the beeps, but similar to engine noise).
“A quick vehicle,” said Birchfield when asked to comment on his new ride. “The biggest difference between that and the Charger is the noise.”
The vehicle also has a towing package to allow the town’s traffic sign to be moved easily. The Town of Weaverville hopes to transition to an all Hybrid fleet in the future.