Public Safety

Cedar Rapids police cruisers sporting a new look

All-black look saves money, disguises dings and scratches

The new Cedar Rapids Police Department cruisers have black door panels, a change from the previous white wraps that showed scuffs and added cost. The new SUVs cost about $28,000 each and require another $28,000 in upgrades for law enforcement purposes. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
The new Cedar Rapids Police Department cruisers have black door panels, a change from the previous white wraps that showed scuffs and added cost. The new SUVs cost about $28,000 each and require another $28,000 in upgrades for law enforcement purposes. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)
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CEDAR RAPIDS — You may have noticed some new Cedar Rapids police cruisers sporting a new look.

That’s because the Cedar Rapids Police Department is swapping out its classic black-and-white look for new, all-black cruisers.

Capt. Craig Furnish, who is involved in vehicle procurement, said the new look costs less.

When the SUVs are manufactured for the department, they are initially all black, with the white wrap added at extra cost.

“It’s basically a cost-saving measure,” Furnish said. “To put that white wrap on our cars is an $840 upgrade. Also the black looks better — it doesn’t show cosmetic flaws like dents, scratches, as obviously as the white does.”

The department has 65 marked cruisers, Furnish said. This past fiscal year, the department bought 13 new, all-black vehicles.

Each new vehicle costs about $28,000, Furnish said. The upgrades needed to make the vehicles functional for law enforcement — a “cage,” lighting equipment, computers, radios and so on — add another $28,000 to the cost.

“We get about 13 or 14 new vehicles a year, and that depends on what we need that year — it could be 10 squad cars and 3 unmarked cars, or it could be 13 squad cars — it just depends on what vehicles need to be rotated out,” he said.

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Each vehicle has an expected life span of about five years, Furnish said, but that is dependent on how the vehicle holds up mechanically and whether it’s been in any wrecks.

“The police department works with the city’s Fleet Services Department, and they developed a replacement model that is based on analysis for each vehicle,” he said.

“In addition to looking at mileage and age, they also look at how many fixes have been necessary,” he said. “How often do they have to repair a vehicle? There’s no set timeline. ...

“We could get a new vehicle and lose it right away because of an accident, or we could get one that lasts a few years and then starts showing significant mechanical issues,” he said. “You have to take it on a car-by-car basis.”

Six of the new all-black SUVs have already hit the streets. The remaining seven are expected to be in use over the next six months.

Furnish said he expects the department’s entire fleet of marked vehicles will be all black within the next five or six years.

For fiscal year 2020, which spans from July 1 to June 31, 2020, the department has ordered 14 new vehicles — 10 patrol cruisers, one K-9 vehicle and three unmarked cars, Furnish said.

“Really, we’re just trying to be more fiscally responsible,” he said. “Why spend $840 on a wrap? You multiply that times 65 squad cars, and you’re saving about $54,000, which is roughly the price of two squad cars.”

l Comments: (319) 398-8238; kat.russell@thegazette.com

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