And the Best Dressed Police Vehicle award goes to…
February 23, 2022 By Brittani Schroeder
Saanich Police Department drives away in the top spot for Blue Line’s 2022 Best Dressed Police Vehicle Awards
Congratulations to all the winners of Blue Line’s Best Dressed Vehicle Awards, which showcases innovative, sustainable and effective designs. We look for clear identification, graphic designs that enhance visibility, elements that show directionality of travel and effective integration of equipment and controls. “Green” vehicles are also taken into consideration. Thank you to all agencies who submitted their vehicles. Stay tuned to blueline.ca for 2023’s call for submissions later this year.
Best Dressed (regular patrol) category
1st PLACE: SAANICH POLICE DEPARTMENT
Historically, the Saanich Police Department (SPD) have operated with blue and white patrol cars. In 1994, the entire fleet was transitioned to all white cars. In his submission, Deputy Chief Gary Schenk wrote that the colours for this year’s new design were in honour and recognition of the historical blue and white colours, which is in marked contrast to the North American trend of black and white police cruisers.
A volunteer committee of 12 staff representing all divisions of the SPD were responsible for creating the new design. This group included traffic collision analysts to add insight on ways to increase the safety of the design through high visibility graphics.
Schenk stated that the motto for the SPD, “Keeping Saanich Safe since 1906”, was an important feature to include on the 2019 Dodge Charger. It can be found on the rear of the vehicle as a way to acknowledge the SPD’s history of service to their community. The vehicle also features a Canadian flag, a replica of the SPD police badge each officer wears, and reflective markings.
Dave Brown, one of the Best Dressed Police Vehicle judges, commended the SPD for the graphics used on this year’s first-place vehicle. “The one factor that stood out to me is the placement of the words on the side, giving their design directionality. I want to see the direction that a marked vehicle is going at a glance, day or night, and this car fits the bill.”
Rylan Simpson, another contest judge, was struck by the contrasting colour scheme featured on the SPD vehicle. “This patrol car boldly identifies itself; the navy-blue colour is novel and the addition of the badge adds a unique touch to this otherwise more standard design.”
Schenk said he and the SPD were thrilled to learn that their front-line patrol vehicles had been selected as the winner of this year’s contest. “We take great pride in our fleet as a distinctive and highly visible representation of our progressive and community-minded organization, and are particularly proud of the fact that our design was developed by our own staff. We saw this competition as a tremendous opportunity to showcase our department from coast to coast and could not be more excited to see our car on the cover of Blue Line. What has me most excited is the opportunity to share this award with the dedicated officers who drive this car every day!”
2nd PLACE: SERVICE DE POLICE VILLE DE SAINT-JÉRÔME
Early in 2019, service Director Dany Paterson showed a strong interest in updating the design of the Service de police Ville de Saint-Jérôme patrol vehicles, especially as they switched to a fleet of hybrid explorers. Having worked in graphic design previously, Cst. Kevin St-Denis offered to give the project a try.
Similarly to SPD, the Service decided on a navy-blue colour for their new fleet. St-Denis shared that this was a prerequisite of Paterson’s, who believes it represents the colour of the Service’s uniform, as well as the known colour for a city police department. This vehicle is the first hybrid electric vehicle to be used by the patrol department in the Service, and the design made a significant step towards visibility and safety for the officers and citizens on the road.
The Service’s previous design included an all-white vehicle with royal blue stickers. The new design features white hatched lines for maximum visibility; a golden police services logo; three white lines are present on the rear of the vehicle which represent the Service’s three organizational values: ‘Intégrité – Engagement – Respect’ (in English, this translates to Integrity, Commitment, Respect); and, finally, a Canada Thin Blue Line logo was added to the trunk door.
All the stickers used on the vehicle are made from a highly-reflective material, including the white doors. Unlike most police vehicle designs that have painted white doors, the doors on the Service de police Ville de Saint-Jérôme patrol vehicles will reflect whenever a car light, flashlight or other light source is pointed at it.
“I love the contrast, colour and size of this design. This was done very well,” said contest judge Brown.
When St-Denis learned of their second-place win, he was ecstatic. “This was our first time entering the Blue Line Best Dressed Police Vehicle contest. Having worked for over 12 months alongside Director Paterson to create this design, and after many hours of research, tests and failures, I can definitely say it was a lot of fun. All our members were invited to give their opinion and ideas for the new design, and the one you see now was voted in by our team,” he said. “We are very proud to be part of the top three this year.”
3rd PLACE: ST. THOMAS POLICE SERVICE
Deputy Chief Marc Roskamp was very excited to submit the new design of the St. Thomas Police Service vehicle to this year’s contest. He shared that the St. Thomas Police Service is committed to the modernization of their equipment and of their abilities to provide relevant and compassionate public safety services to the community they serve so proudly.
A large portion of emergency services throughout Europe, New Zealand, Australia, China and some in the U.S. have adopted the Battenburg style of vehicle markings. Roskamp knows the importance for police vehicles to be conspicuous, and the importance of eliminating risks when police personnel are involved in unusual and dangerous traffic situations.
The regular pattern and contrast between light and dark colours increase visibility in the daytime, dusk and dawn. The complete pattern is retroreflective. The hope is that this new design provides a softer, less intimidating image for policing. As Roskamp stated, improving community perceptions about public safety services and calls to modernize approachability are evidence-based influences for the potential adjustment to the Battenburg design for police vehicles.
“Police culture – and specifically how officers show up – needs to be reflected in who we are as a public safety service. Service delivery methods are modernizing in many ways, and so too must our uniforms, equipment, vehicle standards and approaches,” said Roskamp. “We’d like to thank Blue Line for this recognition, and we expect a positive impact both in terms of road safety and public perceptions from using the Battenburg marking scheme.”
Brown has been waiting for some time for a Canadian police agency to adopt the Battenburg design. “It’s very unusual and eye-catching, but familiar to almost anyone who has seen British TV series. I also agree that the design is a bit ‘friendlier’, so to speak.”
Pending internal and external satisfaction of the new design, the St. Thomas Police Service will make an operational determination on replicating the Battenburg marking on future vehicles introduced into their fleet.
1st PLACE: ABBOTSFORD POLICE DEPARTMENT
In 2020, the Abbotsford Police Department (AbbyPD) embarked on a year-long journey to locate and restore a vintage cruiser, which ended up being a 1965 Chevrolet Biscayne Cruiser that Staff Sgt. Chris Nightingale said could not have been restored without the support and generosity of the Abbotsford community. The vehicle was solely funded by two dozen community donors who provided financial and labour services through the Abbotsford Police Foundation. The build process involved a team of a dozen AbbyPD employees and numerous community volunteers who donated their time.
“This vehicle has become a popular community showpiece at various events and often results in persons from all walks of life engaging uniformed police in conversations about the car, or their memories of this era,” said Nightingale.
Brown stated, “I love this classic cruiser. It’s clear that a lot of work went into the vehicle, and having owned something similar in the ‘70s, that engine compartment would win awards for being so true to stock.”
This cruiser was named “Carol”. Retired Insp. Carol Powell served as a police officer for over 33 years with the Matsqui and later Abbotsford Police Departments. She donated countless hours of her own time to her community, and many children knew her by her alter-ego “Mrs. Claus”. During the restoration of the vehicle, Insp. Powell was battling cancer. She sadly lost her battle before the completion of the cruiser. Now, a sketch of her alter-ego “Mrs. Claus” and a signature from Powell are featured on the glovebox. The clock, which never ran properly, was set to 5:26—the time when Insp. Powell passed away.
“I was impressed by the level of thought and detail that went into the vehicle design: from the time displayed on the clock to the creation of its decals. I also really appreciate that the vehicle was named in honour of a policing leader who exhibited a positive influence on both the department and the broader community,” shared contest judge Simpson.
A local graphic artist and sign company donated their time to digitally re-create the door decal that was used in 1965, which looks very similar to the British Columbia Provincial Police crest. The ultimate goal for the cruiser is to showcase it in the lobby of the new AbbyPD building.
“Those involved are honoured and proud of this award, as it recognizes hundreds of hours of work which made this community-based project a reality,” said Nightingale. “This car is the epitome of community and always will be. It’s a unique story, and given her close community ties, I have no doubt that Mrs. Claus would be proud.”
2nd PLACE: SAANICH POLICE DEPARTMENT
Saanich Police Department’s eye-catching community relations vehicle was the initiative of two Saanich Police Community engagement division officers, who had a vision for using a “cool” car to create unique engagement opportunities with youth.
The vehicle was acquired through agreements with the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office, who work to undermine the profile motive behind criminal activity by seizing the tools and proceeds of that activity. This 2012 Dodge Charger SRT8 was seized by the combined forces special enforcement unit – British Columbia in 2015 following an investigation of drug-trade violence in Surrey and it was subsequently forfeited to the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Office. “The vehicle gives our officers an opportunity to share this story with kids in the community through subtle black-on-black lettering on the rear bumper that states ‘SEIZED FROM A DRUG DEALER’,” said Deputy Chief Gary Schenk.
Matte black was chosen specifically for the base colour, as it is very trendy with “younger car enthusiasts,” stated Schenk. The shiny black accents and blue pin striping accentuate the aggressive lines of the Charger design. The hood features a large police badge decal which is an exact replica of the badge carried by every Saanich officer. Schenk relayed that “the overall result is that people are attracted to a really cool car, and are then surprised to learn it’s a police vehicle!”
“This is great use of suppressed design,” shared judge Brown. “I love anything that says, ‘Seized from a drug dealer’. Also, the thin blue line design stands out nicely.”
Schenk and the SPD were delighted to hear that their Community Engagement Charger was awarded second place. “As a Dodge Charger, this vehicle offers a unique twist on our frontline patrol fleet that turns heads everywhere it goes … To be recognized across Canada by Blue Line was doubly rewarding.”
Thank you to Dave Brown and Rylan Simpson, Blue Line’s Best Dressed Police Vehicle judges, for their expertise and dedication to this content.
Dave Brown is Blue Line’s firearms and police vehicle contributor. He is a tactical firearms trainer and consultant based in Winnipeg. He can be reached at Dave.Brown@northwestlaw.ca.
Rylan Simpson, Ph.D. is an assistant professor in the School of Criminology at Simon Fraser University. He is an expert in police perception research and has studied the effects of police vehicle aesthetics on people’s perceptions of the police. He has recently published his work in Criminology & Public Policy, Journal of Experimental Criminology, Policing & Society, and Policing: A Journal of Policy and Practice.
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