Published 12:00 am Saturday, July 13, 2013

Salisbury Police cars are making a return to the traditional side of law enforcement with a brand new black and white color scheme. The department has had its current blue and white vehicles for more than 10 years.
Police Chief Rory Collins said the color scheme began as a suggestion from some of the officers. When everyone in the police department was surveyed about the idea, an overwhelming majority of the officers wanted the traditional look, he said.
Other area agencies have in recent years changed their vehicle color scheme. The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office in late 2010 implemented gray and silver into its fleet. In 2009, the Landis Police Department went with the traditional black and white.
Most officers said black and white was more visually appealing. Right now, only two new vehicles in an estimated fleet of 65 have the colors. Collins said morale was a factor in considering the change, but he wanted to look at the cost difference in changing the colors.
“If there was a cost difference, we needed to be able to justify it,” he said.
Collins approved the new look after receiving results of an internal survey and a study on the benefits of such a transition.
“I determined that, not only would doing so have a positive impact upon the morale of our troops, it would also enable us to provide an increased level of visibility within our neighborhoods, which can be good for officer safety, as well as beneficial to our desire to better serve our citizens and our crime deterrent efforts,” Collins said.
He said the new appearance also coincides with the positive changes made within the department over the last three years. The change to the cars is also “reflective of our enhanced emphasis upon proactive policing methods,” Collins said.
It’s hard to mistake the black and white vehicles for anything other than a police patrol car and that was one of the reason’s Collins believed the new scheme would work well.
“We are always striving for visibility in neighborhoods and this will help us even more,” Collins said.
The cars will stand out and that will make residents feel safer in their neighborhoods, he said.
The colors won’t change all at once, but as cars reach the end of their lifespan, they will be replaced with newer cars bearing the new scheme.
The cars are all black and have a white vinyl “wrap” around the door and over the hood. The new vehicles have black and gray “graphics” or lettering on the sides, front and rear. The graphics and wraps are cheaper than painting 65 vehicles black and white. The difference is less than $200 between the new cars and ones with the old color scheme.
Graphic Signs in Rockwell placed the graphics on the two new cars. Mike Bost is the owner of the business.
The first two cars belong to K-9 officer J.A. Fox and Community Services Officer A.M. Cooper, who is also the Youth Crime Prevention Officer. Cooper also serves as the G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) Officer. Fox has a Tahoe and Cooper drives a Ford Mustang.
The Tahoe cost $25,775 and the Mustang was $26,246 and purchased through a state contract.
“We try to get 10 years out of a car,” Collins said.
He expects the vinyl wraps to last the life of the car.
When Andy Efird, head of professional standards, began looking at the cost of painting the doors and the roof, he found it was significantly higher.
“New cars that are purchased are being outfitted with the new scheme,” Efird said.
The replacement schedule in Salisbury is about eight vehicles a year. That means it would take about 10 years to rotate the entire fleet, Efird said.
Collins said if finances change, the department could consider phasing more vehicles out than eight per year.
“Residents will see more black and white vehicles in the next three to four years,” Efird said.
The department will only phase in the two new vehicles this year, but at least eight are likely to come into service next year. Older cars that will be taken out of rotation will be offered at auction and the money is returned to the city of Salisbury. Money made from the sale of the auctioned vehicle could potentially be placed back into the police department’s budget for a new vehicle.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: Facebook: