Tesla Police Cars!? How, Why, and Who Builds Them

South Pasadena Police Sergeant Tony Abdalla and Unplugged Performance’s Ben Schaffer talk Tesla cop cars.

The InEVitable podcast, hosts Jonny Lieberman and Ed Loh chat with South Pasadena Police Department Sergeant Tony Abdalla and returning guest Ben Schaffer, founder and CEO of Unplugged Performance, about what it took to create the first all-EV police department in the world.

Sgt. Abdalla, a 33-plus-year veteran, currently serves the city of South Pasadena as its “EV conversion project lead” in addition to being the commanding officer of the department’s detective bureau.

South Pas, as it’s known, is a small Southern California suburb situated between Los Angeles and Pasadena, with a population of about 25,000 spread out over 3.5 square miles.

Tesla Police Cars!? How, Why, and Who Builds Them

the SPPD (St. Petersburg Police Department) and Abdalla (presumably a relevant individual or organization) confronted a distinctive chance to fully replace their outdated assortment of police vehicles.

This presented them with a rare opportunity to overhaul their entire fleet, possibly improving operational efficiency, enhancing officer safety, and incorporating advanced technological features.

By seizing this moment, the SPPD and Abdalla could address the limitations of their aging vehicles, potentially transforming their law enforcement capabilities and adapting to the evolving demands of modern policing

Unlike other police departments that have gradually integrated electric vehicles for support functions like traffic control or parking enforcement, this situation presented a unique opportunity.

The decision to go electric wasn’t limited to just a few support vehicles; instead, it encompassed the replacement of 10 emergency-response patrol vehicles and an additional 10 detective cars dedicated to daily investigative tasks.

This ambitious approach demonstrates a commitment by the SPPD and Abdalla to embrace sustainable technology in critical areas of law enforcement, potentially setting a precedent for other departments to follow suit in the future. By prioritizing electric vehicles for essential operations, they could make substantial strides toward reducing emissions and promoting eco-friendly policing.

When the “five-oh” (police) transitions to electric vehicles (EVs), several challenges and opportunities arise. Firstly, one major challenge is the limited range and charging infrastructure of EVs, which can potentially affect the response time and operational flexibility of police officers.

Additionally, the cost of acquiring and maintaining EVs, along with the training required for officers to adapt to the new technology, poses a financial challenge. However, there are significant opportunities as well.

EVs offer reduced emissions, contributing to environmental sustainability and improving air quality in communities. They can also result in long-term cost savings through lower fuel and maintenance expenses.

Furthermore, the integration of advanced technologies in EVs can enhance communication, data collection, and overall efficiency in law enforcement operations.

The insights provided by retired police officers, Thomas and Robert Syto, from their experiences in various police departments, likely shed light on these challenges and opportunities for the podcast.

“EVs can indeed make excellent police cars. They offer numerous advantages, such as reduced emissions, quieter operation for stealthy pursuits, and potential cost savings on fuel and maintenance.

Additionally, EVs can be equipped with advanced technologies to enhance law enforcement capabilities, such as improved connectivity for real-time data access and integration with smart city infrastructure.

However, there are some challenges to consider, including limited range and charging infrastructure, which may require careful planning and strategic placement of charging stations.

Overall, with proper planning and adaptation, EVs can be a promising option for police departments looking to modernize their fleet and promote sustainability.”

Indeed, electric vehicles (EVs) hold significant potential as an excellent option for police departments seeking to upgrade their fleets. EVs offer higher efficiency, lower operational costs, and reduced environmental impact compared to traditional gas-powered cars.

The improved energy efficiency of EVs allows for longer patrol durations and decreased reliance on fossil fuels. Additionally, the lower maintenance requirements of EVs can result in cost savings for police departments in the long run.

Furthermore, the transition to EVs aligns with the growing global focus on sustainability and can showcase a department’s commitment to environmental stewardship.

Advantages and considerations of electric vehicles (EVs) for police departments. The quick acceleration and improved handling of EVs can indeed enhance response capabilities in emergency situations. However, it’s crucial for police departments to carefully evaluate the total cost of ownership, including initial purchase costs, maintenance expenses, and potential savings from reduced fuel and maintenance requirements.

Moreover, the limited range of EVs and longer charging times can present challenges, especially for extended patrols or urgent situations requiring immediate mobility.

Adequate charging infrastructure and strategic planning are essential to ensure uninterrupted operations. Advanced battery technologies, such as fast-charging capabilities, are continually being developed to mitigate these limitations.

By weighing the benefits and challenges, police departments can make informed decisions about integrating EVs into their fleets, considering factors like operational requirements, infrastructure readiness, and long-term sustainability goals.

It’s great to hear that Abdalla acknowledged the significance of total cost of ownership and addressed concerns about maintaining charged patrol vehicles in our conversation. Keeping patrol vehicles ready for pursuit, given their constant duty cycle, is indeed a crucial consideration for successful EV implementation.

Selecting the appropriate EVs and finding a reliable partner for their conversion into police service vehicles are key decisions. Ben Schaffer’s involvement in this context suggests that he played a role in advising and assisting with these important aspects.

Identifying suitable EV models that meet the specific needs of police operations, such as range, acceleration, and durability, would have been an essential part of the decision-making process.

In addition, converting EVs for police service involves outfitting them with necessary equipment, such as lights, sirens, communication systems, and other law enforcement-specific modifications. Ben Schaffer’s expertise likely contributed to ensuring the successful conversion and adaptation of the chosen EVs to meet the specific requirements of the St. Petersburg Police Department.

Indeed, Ben Schaffer’s background and expertise as the founder and CEO of Tesla performance upfitter Unplugged Performance bring a valuable perspective to the conversion process of Tesla Model 3s and Ys into police cars.

The experience gained from building record-breaking electric race cars and participating in events like Tesla Corsa track days and Pikes Peak International Hill Climb likely lends itself well to the task of transforming these vehicles into suitable police cars.

Converting Teslas into police vehicles requires modifications that align with the demands of 24/7 patrol, detective work, and even accommodating K9 units. This likely involves customizing the interior for law enforcement equipment, integrating communication systems, installing emergency lights and sirens, reinforcing durability, and optimizing performance.

Schaffer’s expertise in performance enhancements and vehicle customization, along with the knowledge gained from pushing the limits of electric race cars, could prove invaluable in adapting Teslas for police service. His involvement suggests that the St. Petersburg Police Department was able to leverage the expertise of a renowned Tesla upfitter to ensure that the converted vehicles met the specific operational requirements and durability standards expected from police cars.

Watch this fascinating conversation right here or check out it on our YouTube channel. Commuting? Download it at Podcast One or wherever you listen to your podcasts. If you love it, please share it and don’t forget to give us a five-star review.

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Information Source: motortrend

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