Landis cop cars get a new look that’s ‘old’

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 1, 2009

By Shavonne Potts
LANDIS ó The police department here is going retro ó at least with its cars. The Landis Police Department is in the process of having its vehicles painted in traditional black and white.
The cars have for a long time been all white with red, white and blue striping and lettering. Now only the hood and doors remain white, while the front and rear are black.
“We are trying to make ourselves more visible,” said Police Chief Brian McCoy.
He said the black-and-white cars can be identified from a distance.
“The traditional police car scheme is recognizable to the public,” he said.
So far, four cars have been repainted, with about eight left to redo.
Jeff Tilley, with Landis Public Works Department, oversees the procedures. It takes about two to three days, he said.
Tilley is also a Landis police officer.
Tilley said inmates at Piedmont Correctional Institute are doing the painting.
Auto body instructor Jeff McGrady, with Rowan-Cabarrus Community College, teaches the inmates how to do automotive painting and body work. The inmates are in the class for six months at a time. “We take the cars for city, county, state and nonprofit organizations,” McGrady said.
In recent years, the inmates have painted police cars for China Grove, firetrucks for Landis and school buses for the Rowan-Salisbury School System.
“We bring a car in and work on it until it’s ready. Sometimes, they have to sand them two or three times before it’s ready,” he said.
The men clean the car then sand and prepare it for painting. They take out the headlights and tape up other parts before the car goes into the painting booth.
“The class is auto body repair. My job is to get them in introductory level,” McGrady said.
He’s had some inmates find such success with the program they’ve turned it into a career.
“I’ve had letters from some of the guys who got out and are doing this for a living. This class I got now, they really enjoy working on cars,” he said.
Having the inmates do the painting helps the town save money.
“It’s helping our budget to be kept lower in vehicle expense. It helps the DOC with their paint and body-shop program,” McCoy said.
Alderman Roger Safrit noted the program offers rehabilitation for the inmates and possibly gives them a trade when they are released.
“There is minimal transition with getting all of the cars painted,” he said.
Safrit said McCoy got the ball rolling with the process, but the idea of painting the cars has been tossed around for some time.
“We had some people who had difficulty telling the Sheriff’s Department cars from Landis cars,” Safrit said.
The police budget allows the department to pay for paint and other materials such as sanding equipment.
McCoy and Safrit said they’ve gotten positive feedback from people in the community. Landis Officer B.S. Linn, who drives one of the newly painted vehicles, said he and his fellow officers love the new paint job.
The first car was painted in April and the final car is expected to be done sometime in June. McCoy said completion of the project depends on the auto body class schedule.
In the near future, the department also hopes to have a new logo designed and affixed to the cars.
McCoy said a couple of local graphic designers are working on ideas.