July 22, 2004
When it comes to police car fashion, black and white is in.
The Mesa Police Department has proposed changing its white patrol cars to the traditional black and white scheme historically favored nationwide, according to city records.
"It's a safety issue," said Mesa Lt. Steve Farago. "People don't see the white police cars, they blend in with other cars. This will increase visibility and give us more presence in the neighborhoods."
The new paint job would only apply to the 45 or so new patrol cars that are purchased each year to replace aging cruisers. If the Mesa City Council approves the measure, the transition would take six to seven years before the entire fleet of about 300 cars is black and white.
The black-and-white scheme would cost an additional $400 per car, but the department hopes to offset that by about $200 by using traditional bolts on hubcaps instead of the current full wheel cover. Money also will be saved by not using the full graphics currently on the white cars.
"This would be a nice, new look for the department," Farago said. "With the black and whites, everyone knows what they are. Everyone sees them in movies and on TV."
If approved, Mesa would join several other Valley police agencies that have switched to the traditional look, including Gilbert.
Mesa police committee member Tom Rawles said the transition to black and white is a no-brainer.
"It seems to make sense from a visual standpoint," said Rawles, who voted last week to send the issue to the City Council. "And a big thing for us was that a lot of officers thought it was a good idea."
The Mesa City Council is expected to take up the issue in August.
Gilbert Lt. Joe Ruet said the department noticed a change in morale when it switched to black and white about five years ago.
"There's a pride factor. Black and white is recognized as the professional look, and when we got ours, it was a good boost for our feeling of professionalism, or morale, for the guys."