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Posted: Tuesday, February 19th 2013 at 10:37pm

New police vehicles to patrol the streets of Helen soon

By Rob Moore Editor
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Helen Police Chief Jim Couch presented this design concept as a possibility for the department's patrol vehicles. (Photo/Rob Moore)
HELEN – Helen Police Department soon will have three replacement patrol vehicles on the streets.

Exactly what those vehicles will look like remains to be determined, but should become clearer in two weeks.

At Tuesday afternoon’s Helen City Commission meeting, Police Chief Jim Couch presented commissioners with some concept pictures of potential markings for vehicles in the department’s fleet.

On Monday, the department picked up two white Ford Crown Victorias from a dealership in Unadilla.

“We got a good deal on those two that are out there,” Couch said. “They’ve got about 70,000 miles on them. They came from Texas. They went off-lease from a department out there.”

The cars will replace aging Chevrolet Impalas with double that mileage.

One of the Chevrolets is parked and is inoperable. The other is in need of replacement.

The third replacement unit will be a new Ford Interceptor sedan, also white.

It replaces a Ford Bronco that has been transferred to the city fire department, Couch said.

Couch said the department will be replacing marking on its six patrol vehicles with reflective decals.

It’s how the vehicle markings will look that commissioners felt needs additional study.

“I wanted to do a theme that was a German theme to go with the city,” Couch said. “I wanted to be able to include that in all types of vehicles that we have.”

That can be a challenge for a department like Helen that utilizes multiple vehicle styles.

“When you do these decals, you’ve got to be sure that these decals will fit on the Police Interceptor Utility, will fit on the Crown Vics, will fit on the 2010 Explorer, will fit on the new Police Interceptor,” Couch said, noting that six vehicles will have to have decals applied.

“All this is reflective, so you can see it at night,” Couch said. “That’s the new thing.”

“To me, it looks too busy,” said Commissioner Dona K. Burke. “I like what we’ve got on our cars now. The new one does not have a phone number. I don’t think we need a website on a police car – most people are not going to get on the website. If anything, I think there needs to be a phone number and I think it needs to be visible.”

Burke said most people don’t know the red, yellow and black are German colors.

“We want the policemen to be friendly and happy, but I’m thinking it almost looks like a circus car,” Burke said.

Commissioner Helen Wilkins said the bright colors also caught her attention.

“I don’t know that people will even notice or care one way or the other,” Wilkins said. “It did kind of trouble me at first, but I understand what it is now, and it makes sense.”

Burke questioned the rationale behind changing.

“Why are we changing what we’ve got?” Burke asked.

Couch said the change is to standardize markings on all types of vehicles and increase reflective surface on the sides.

“If you don’t like the German flag, we can remove it,” Couch said.

Burke said she doesn’t think most people will know what the colors represent. She asked what others on the commission thought of the concept.

“This yellow jumped out at me,” said Vice Mayor Jeff Ash. “I’m like y’all. I didn’t know it was the colors on the German flag.”

Ash suggested changing the yellow to the gold that’s seen on the logo patch.

Burke again reiterated placing a telephone number on the car rather than the city website.

Commissioner Judy Holloway noted positive strides made by Couch since he was hired.

“He’s changed for the good almost everything since he’s been on board,” Holloway said. “And that is eye-catching. It’s going to be reflective. Nobody can mistake that it’s not a police car.”

Holloway agreed with Burke that a telephone number is needed on the vehicles.

Discussing use of the patch decal on the concept presented, Holloway agreed with Couch that the size of that design element would be dependent on the size of the particular vehicle.

“I just think the patch is too small,” Burke said of the concept. “I just didn’t like it. I don’t know why.”

Couch said if the commission doesn’t like the colors, those could be removed and Helen Police could be reflective.

Commissioners said the vehicles without the colored stripes would be too plain.

City Manager Jerry Elkins suggested that Couch develop two or three different designs in order to try to reach consensus or, alternately, to allow commissioners to pick elements they like from each.

Commissioners said they don’t mind the three German flag colors being used, but not as large as the concept. Instead, they prefer the larger Helen patch if possible.

“We need to be sure that we choose something that everyone’s good with,” Elkins said.

Following a 15-minute discussion on the issue, Ash told Couch the council would reach a decision on vehicle markings at its meeting in two weeks (March 5).
Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News, Politics

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