Chelsea Police Chief Brian Kyes was driving down Broadway last year when he saw what appeared to be a Chelsea Police cruiser coming in his direction.
He gave a beep of the horn, and waved, but it turned out not to be a police cruiser, but actually an old police cruiser that was now being used by a transportation company to drive around the elderly.
“I came up on the car and it turned out to be a transportation company or ‘The Ride,’ and that’s when I knew it was time for a change,” said Kyes.
Therein lay the groundwork for what will soon be a full overhaul in the look of the Chelsea Police Department’s fleet of cruisers and supervisor vehicles -going from the old blue-and-white cars to new black-and-white specialized police cruisers and SUVs.
“I always liked the black-and-white look,” said the chief. “They look very professional. I’m definitely a believer in command presence. Your presence, uniform and vehicle – if they look professional it commands respect. I think that’s important.”
The old cruisers were introduced in 1999 or 2000 and took after the design of the New York Police Department, with block lettering that resembled the Boston Police cruisers. That change was embraced fully for quite some time, but recent changes by police car manufacturer Ford has pushed many communities, including Chelsea, to look at changes.
Kyes said the old Crown Victoria is no longer being made, and in its place Ford is making the Police Interceptor – a special vehicle that is only available to police. That new sedan is also being complemented by a special police SUV, a vehicle commonly used for supervisors.
With that change in vehicle, Kyes said he felt it was time to go with a different look.
“A lot of police departments are going to the black-and-white, so I guess you could call that a trend,” he said. “Also, many of the old police cruisers have been purchased by transportation companies and they maintain that blue color, so at times it becomes hard to figure out what is a police car and what isn’t.”
However, getting the right design isn’t as easy as one might think.
“A lot goes into a police car design,” said Kyes. “You have to decide the colors, the lines, the graphics and so many details. We went with the black-and-white and a grey-blue combination for the lettering with our new badge displayed by the lettering. That sits on top of three lines, and that’s the new look.”
In the latter part of 2012, Chelsea Police put three new-look cruisers on the street and two new-look SUVs. Soon, they will be re-painting six existing, newer Crown Victoria cruisers and two Dodge Chargers with the new black-and-white design.
Beyond that, the department hopes to phase out the old blue-and-white design over the next two years as the fleet is updated.
Then, at that time, there will be no grey areas on the force, just black and white.
“This coming fiscal year we hope to get another three or four new Interceptor cruisers and phase out some of the old blue and white Crown Vics,” said Kyes. “We’ll phase out the old fleet like that and soon the cars will all be the same, new design.