Over the next three years, the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) will take delivery of its new fleet of patrol cars. These vehicles usher in a new era where safety, fuel-efficiency and greener operations take centre stage.
No doubt we've all come upon the scene of a car crash or serious incident defined by red and blue flashing lights. Often these scenarios require police to leave their vehicles unattended for long periods of time with the emergency lights flashing. To ensure the equipment doesn't drain car batteries, effectively handcuffing officers when the next emergency comes in, the cars are left idling.
As leaders in policing and to support the Code Green sustainability program, the VPD sought to minimize engine idling without compromising operations and response readiness. This initiative was combined with the search for a more fuel-efficient vehicle than the traditional V8-powered Ford Police Interceptor. These goals, along with enhanced safety, coalesced in the selection of the V6-powered Dodge Charger police car, equipped with an after-market Havis IdleRight idle-management program paired with an auto-start function and intrusion alarm.
The idle-management technology allows officers to activate the vehicle's full suite of emergency equipment at a serious incident without leaving the engine idling. The system monitors the battery charge state and triggers the auto-start function when it dips below a pre-established threshold. The engine will run only for a short period to refresh the battery.
This cycle repeats itself as necessary until the officer reconnects the key with the car without having to worry about being stranded with a dead battery. While it's running, the vehicle is protected by a series of security safeguards to prevent theft and tampering.
Initial analysis indicates that the Chargers will consume 25 per cent less fuel and emit far fewer greenhouse gases than the existing Crown Victoria police fleet.
The new generation of patrol car is also much safer for officers and the public. While great improvements in occupant protection have emerged over the years, the new fleet takes the issue of 'safety for all' to new heights with a cutting-edge light-bar and low-frequency secondary siren system.
Flashing brilliantly atop the new cars is the Valor light bar, manufactured by Federal Signal. This somewhat Star-Wars-looking asset incorporates a non-linear design, dominated by a triangular forward-pointing protrusion that emits far better 360-degree illumination from its bright LED technology than a conventional light-bar. The result is superior visibility from all angles, particularly for traffic approaching at 90-degrees in busy intersections.
Not only is this new car far more visible to the public during an emergency, it's more audible as well thanks to a low-frequency secondary siren which emits sound waves capable of penetrating solid materials, enabling drivers and pedestrians to feel the sound in addition to hearing it. This technology has proven highly effective in dense urban areas where competing noises and various barriers to sound, such as the modern car, may suppress the effectiveness of a conventional siren.
Migration to the new patrol car also provided an opportunity for the VPD to adopt a fresh, new appearance that draws its inspiration from the popular black and white theme while remaining unique and distinctive to Vancouver.
The new graphics were designed in-house by the department's own graphic designer, Sharm Thiagarajah, and selected by members from a series of five prototypes. The new look takes advantage of the scalloped front door of the Charger, filling it with a white-to-black gradient flowing to the rear door. Lettering is bordered in gold, which is drawn from the gold wreath surrounding the department's crest.
An Aboriginal-themed thunderbird sweeps over the arch of the front fenders, also incorporating the white-to-black transition featured on the doors. The thunderbird is a custom creation by the world-renowned Aboriginal artist Susan Point, who generously donated the artwork. The thunderbird in native lore means the protector, and the department proudly displays it as a salute to the people who were here first, and as an icon of the Pacific Northwest.
The VPD motto of "Beyond the Call" is delivered across the trunk lid, completing the look of the new car while tying it into the previous generation patrol car.
The entire VPD fleet of marked patrol vehicles is expected to be renewed within three years, projecting the pride of the men and women serving the diverse communities of Vancouver and its ethnically-rich population.
Somewhere on every marked Vancouver Police Department (VPD) vehicle are the words Beyond the Call.
Ten years ago the VPD adopted this tag line as its unofficial slogan but more significantly, as a promise to all Vancouver residents that their police department would routinely go beyond the call of duty to provide a level of service and public safety that exceeded all expectations.
The words were not just something to put on a police car but an indicator of a culture that existed within the department, where feats of extraordinary service or bravery were encouraged, recognized and celebrated.
Formed in 1886 and now British Columbia's largest municipal police department, the VPD has a long tradition of going Beyond the Call. It was among the first police agencies to hire female officers and the first to create a marine squad.
With more than 1,700 employees the VPD polices metropolitan Vancouver but safeguards a city population of more than 600,000, a number that is increased substantially by those who live in the greater Vancouver region but work and play in the city.
The VPD's ability to deal with those larger populations came into focus in the past few years when facing the massive crowds generated by the 2010 Winter Olympic Games and the 2011 Stanley Cup hockey riot.
Both events generated numerous examples of individual officers and units that displayed incredible levels of service and bravery that truly went Beyond the Call.