The Palm Beach Police Department is purchasing three new hybrid vehicles on an “experimental” basis
In an effort to align with the town’s focus on environmentally friendly initiatives, the police department announced it has bought three gas-electric hybrid vehicles.
The Ford Police Interceptor utility vehicles, which cost $45,000 apiece, are 2020 models and should be on the streets next year, Police Chief Nicholas Caristo told the Public Safety Committee recently.
He said two vehicles would be used for patrol and one for administrative purposes.
The hybrid patrol vehicles get better gas mileage — 24 per gallon compared with about 17 per gallon for the department’s current Ford Interceptors and Chevy Impalas. They also provide better traction, specially during rainstorms, and have more storage room for police equipment, Caristo said.
No one in the police department has test-driven the hybrid cars, but Caristo said that he’s had positive feedback from the Michigan State police, which uses them.
The Boynton Beach Police Department is the only other Palm Beach County agency that uses hybrids, Caristo said.
Something that could be considered a downside, he said, is the high cost of the hybrid Interceptor’s lithium battery, which costs about $6,200 to replace.
Caristo said there is no data on how long the batteries are supposed to last, but that “the town has purchased the extended warranty in hopes that it will offset any unencumbered costs.”
Council Member Julie Araskog expressed concern about whether the batteries had been sufficiently tested. Caristo said they had been tested, but not in the field.
“You can test something, but when you put it in real time and conditions, that’s what’s not known,” Caristo said.
Committee Chair Margaret Zeidman complimented Caristo on the research done by the police department regarding the new vehicles, and the initiative to move toward a more environmentally friendly option.
“It’s wonderful to see that even in public safety, we are moving forward in this direction,” Zeidman said.
The town has been steadily moving forward in its Green Initiative, which includes efforts to cease using herbicides and pesticides on public properties.
Some town eateries, including the Surfside Diner and the Sailfish Club, have voluntarily stopped offering plastic straws. The Breakers stopped providing plastic straws, plastic water bottles and polystyrene in its restaurants in 2017.