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Menlo Park: Electric vehicles a no-go for police department, for now

 

Despite a slew of emails urging the city of Menlo Park to update its police fleet with electric vehicles, there are currently no patrol cars on the market that reach certain standards for pursuit that are all electric; the only available ones are gas-powered or hybrid vehicles.

As such, the Menlo Park Police Department got approval from the City Council on June 11 to buy eight new hybrid SUV patrol vehicles.

According to a staff report from Donald Weber, public works supervisor, and Sustainability Manager Rebecca Lucky, patrol vehicles have specific space needs and stringent safety standards, and all-electric vehicles have an added vulnerability -- in an emergency when the power is out, the patrol car wouldn't have anywhere to charge.

The Fremont Police Department is doing a pilot study to use a Tesla patrol vehicle, but according to staff, it took about a year to get the vehicle set up, and it still doesn't meet certain safety standards.

The Ford SUV hybrid recommended by staff gets 25 miles per gallon, and Weber and Lucky added that the SUV hybrid "is the best available option for (greenhouse gas) reduction and meets the requirements and needs of police officers."

It's also the most expensive option proposed, with an estimated cost of $547,854, including fuel.

The police department already has four hybrid detective vehicles, two electric motorcycles, two electric parking enforcement vehicles and four hybrid utility patrol vehicles that are expected to arrive this summer. Following the purchase of these vehicles, 10 out of the city's 27 patrol cars will be hybrids.

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