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City opts to pay $18,000 extra for greener cop cars

Dennis WebbGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colo. Glenwood Springs City Council is trying show its commitment to fighting global warming isn’t just a bunch of hot air.Two months after signing on to the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, council agreed Thursday to spend a total of $18,000 extra for three police vehicles because they get better gas mileage than another vehicle the police department also was interested in buying.Council decided to purchase Chevy Tahoes instead of Ford Expeditions because the Tahoes are expected to get around 3 or 4 more miles per gallon.Council made the decision at the urging of council member Joe O’Donnell, who said the city needs to take such steps to honor the commitment it made in December. O’Donnell, a former Denver policeman, had encouraged the police department to look into buying hybrids or other more fuel-efficient vehicles. However, police chief Terry Wilson said in a memo to council that smaller vehicles, including hybrids, wouldn’t meet the department’s needs.The vehicles require space for officers’ weapons and other gear, and to hold prisoners. Also, the vehicles’ electric systems must be capable of powering an array of lights, radios and other equipment.In addition, two-wheel-drive vehicles don’t cut it in the hilly and sometimes snowy parts of town.O’Donnell could live with those arguments. But when Wilson recommended buying either the Expeditions or Tahoes, O’Donnell pushed for spending the $6,000 extra per vehicle for the Tahoes. The Tahoes are a little smaller and are rated at 15 to 21 miles per gallon, compared to 14 to 17 for the Expedition. Wilson said actual mileage probably will be less because of high idling times and other unique demands of police use.The difference in mileage may not be enough to recoup the difference in cost over the three years or so vehicles remain in department use. But O’Donnell said police vehicles often can then be handed over to other city departments, and he hopes the extra upfront investment will be paid off over the life of the vehicles.Either way, O’Donnell said, “we’re putting our money where our mouth is … we’re trying to discourage energy consumption.”Council’s decision pleased Bob Millette, chairman of the Cool Communities initiative, which has been pushing Glenwood to take action to conserve energy and reduce emissions leading to global warming. When council agreed to the mayors’ initiative in December, Millette had said it would be important for the city to begin looking at specific ways to make that happen.”I think this is a good step in that direction,” he said.He called Expeditions “gas-hogs.” He said Tahoes aren’t a whole lot better but he understands the unique needs of police vehicles.Toyota makes a hybrid SUV that gets 27 to 31 miles per gallon, but it isn’t equipped for police use. O’Donnell said he hopes that someday hybrids can be used in police service. For now, he said, even 3 or 4 miles per gallon would be a huge savings if police departments across the country all took the same step that Glenwood has.O’Donnell said he wants the city to begin looking at fuel efficiency in all of its vehicle purchases.Council unanimously agreed to spending the extra money on the police vehicles, with support coming even from those who hadn’t voted for joining the mayors’ initiative. Council member Larry Beckwith said it’s important to show endorsing the initiative wasn’t “a touchy-feely kind of vote.””The point is, we need to show our support for that,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 384-9119dwebb@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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