Photo by Kate Dougherty
Itasca Police Sgt. Mike Michela steps out of the new Dodge Charger, a vehicle whose design recently earned the Itasca Police Department a second place in the country by "Law and Order" magazine in its "International Police Vehicle Design" competition.">
One of four new Dodge Chargers, a vehicle whose design recently earned the Itasca Police Department a second place in the country by "Law and Order" magazine in its "International Police Vehicle Design" competition, sits behind the police department on Monday, Aug. 20."> Photo by Kate Dougherty
One of four new Dodge Chargers, a vehicle whose design recently earned the Itasca Police Department a second place in the country by "Law and Order" magazine in its "International Police Vehicle Design" competition, sits behind the police department on Monday, Aug. 20.">
Itasca’s police cars are getting a lot of attention these days, and not just from those unfortunate enough to see one turn its flashing lights on just before being pulled over.
The Itasca Police Department this month netted second place among municipal police departments with less than 50 members in the International Police Vehicle Design contest sponsored by Law and Order magazine, a trade publication covering law enforcement.
Three of Itasca’s seven squad cars are single-color 2007 gunmetal blue Dodge Chargers, a significant difference from the black and white Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors typically seen patrolling streets throughout the area, Police Chief Scott Heher said.
The cars’ striking logo and exterior decal design, which glows in the dark when viewed from a certain angle, were enough of a point of pride within the department to give the contest a try, he added.
The publication encourages departments from all over the world to submit designs to be judged as the most functional and attractive, with safety features also under consideration, Heher said.
Contest judges said they were struck by the cars’ side graphics, which are “very prominent and bold, and consistent with the graphics on the rear and trunk car lid,” according to comments given to the department by the magazine.
Judges also felt lines on the side of the car “pull viewers’ eyes to the word `police.’”
Police officers were asked to offer ideas for the final design in a collaborative effort, Officer John Matuga said.
The cars first appeared in the village May 1, shortly after Heher attended a police chiefs’ convention this past spring and made the decision to switch from the traditional car model, he said.
The new squad cars are more than just attractive, they’re also economical, Heher said.
“When we crunched the numbers, we saw (the Charger) was about $1,500 less than a Crown Victoria, and we think we can save $600 a year in fuel costs compared (to the older cars),” he added. “When we looked at those things, it really became a no-brainer.”
In recognition of the award, the police department received a plaque, a write-up in the magazine’s August issue, and a $75 donation to Operation Support Our Troops, a charity chosen by the department.
“We’re very proud of the work done (on the cars),” Heher said. “This is a very prestigious award, and we like the design of this car: It’s very bold, very striking and unmistakably an Itasca police car.”
First place in the contest in Itasca’s category went to the Hummelstown Borough Police Department in Hummelstown, Pa.