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'New' police car attention-getter
By JOSH BREWSTER
St. Joseph Police Department Officer Richard Bradley stands with the 2001 Chevrolet Impala that has been ‘tricked out’ — upgraded — to use for parades, school programs and other community outreach purposes. (IVAL LAWHON JR./St. Joseph News-Press)
On New Year’s Day, the vehicle sat dormant, parked behind Lindbergh Elementary School with a shot-out windshield courtesy of some weapon-wielding vandals the night before.
Now, almost two months later, one of the St. Joseph Police Department’s vandalized patrol cars is back on the streets, cruising around St. Joseph in style with a repaired windshield and much, much more.
Thanks to the help of some local merchants, the improved vehicle goes beyond the normal hubcaps, lights and sirens in an attempt to promote a more people-friendly Police Department.
“We liked it because it will hopefully reach the people we normally wouldn’t reach,” said Cmdr. Jim Connors, a spokesman for the Police Department.
With a fresh, new paint job and 20-inch wheels, this standard 2001 Chevrolet Impala patrol vehicle has been transformed into a “tricked-out” community liaison.
“Our goal was to have people want to come over to the vehicle and check it out, instead of trying to avoid it like many people do when they see a police car,” said Officer Richard Bradley, who came up with the idea for the vehicle and installed most of its accessories. “It is designed to be a communication-starter between the citizens and the Police Department.”
Mr. Bradley said he hopes the vehicle will bridge the communication gap between the police and the young drivers along the Belt Highway who have high-performance vehicles.
But don’t expect the vehicle to be just eye candy to other motorists. Mr. Bradley said he and the vehicle would spend the next year going to special events, such as parades and informational programs, as well as patrolling the Belt Highway from time to time, enforcing speeding and seat-belt violations.
Last weekend, the vehicle was on display at the World of Wheels Show at Bartle Hall in Kansas City. While the car was not there to be judged, thousands of people still were treated to a first-hand peek at the “souped-up” vehicle.
And Mr. Bradley said it turned more than a few heads.
“It was absolutely noticed,” he said. “Everyone seemed to like it. Several police officers from Kansas City took a good look at it. They liked what they saw.”
Loading up a vehicle with all the tricks can come with a steep price tag. However, because local merchants came together and donated all the car’s accessories and Mr. Bradley volunteered more than 200 hours of his own time installing the parts, the new-look cruiser came free of cost to the city.
Some of the vehicle’s highlights include dual-exhausts, neon lights under the car, sleek blue and silver decals, tinted windows, a spoiler and a throttle-body spacer to improve the car’s fuel economy.
This stealth-looking vehicle will be ready for duty sometime in the next few weeks, and the Police Department is looking forward to its positive benefits, Mr. Bradley said.
“This is a tool to be used to open a line of communication with the people,” he said. “We want people to come over to the vehicle and talk with us. It will help us getting to know one another, and it may help in recruiting. It definitely sheds a positive light on our Police Department.”