When the Bel Air Police Department's four newest police cruisers go on the street later this month, they'll not only be a different make and model from the older cars in the fleet, they'll also sport a new paint scheme.
The four new Ford Taurus police vehicles will be black with white lettering, as the Bel Air Police moves away from the white cars with green lettering and trim scheme that has been in use nearly 25 years.
The Board of Town Commissioners approved the purchase of the four new cars and the equipment for them during the Aug. 20 town meeting. The new cars should be on the street in September, Deputy Chief Rick Peschek said last week.
The new cruisers' paint scheme will be used on all subsequent replacement models in the department's fleet, according to Peschek, who dated the white and green color scheme to the days of "Tollgate Mall [now Tollgate Marketplace] before Route 24 was finished," which would be in the mid-to late 1980s.
"We felt it was time to move forward a little bit," he said, predicting that the difference in the new cars, equipment and paint scheme will be "like night and day," when compared to the existing vehicles.
The new cars are 2013 models built for police work, with heavy duty suspensions, brake rotors and other standard police package equipment, Peschek said.
Peschek recalled when the town police cars were dark blue with a white stripe prior to the white and green scheme and, before then, the cars were light blue.
He described the new paint scheme as "all black with large white lettering," explaining that department and the public had some "issues" with the white and green cars, which Peschek said had been mistaken for Baltimore Gas & Electric vehicles in some instances.
On the night the purchase of the new cars was approved by the town board, Bel Air Police Chief Leo Matrangola said the cars will arrive street ready, with all their equipment installed and their painting completed.
This, he said, would be a departure from the past when cars were ordered and then the town had the responsibility for painting and equipping them.
Using one provider for the equipment and installation will save money, Matrangola said, adding: "We needed to change the way we do this."
The four cars are being purchased through a state contract from Apple Ford in Columbia at a cost of $93,792, or $23,445 each, including a total trade-in allowance of $14,400, according to the bid information the chief presented to the board on Aug. 20.
The board also approved a $14,400 bid from Brekford in Hanover to equip the vehicles with light bars, sirens, grille lights and consoles. Another bid of $26,000 was approved from Brekford for the onboard computers, software and radio equipment.
According to Matrangola, the four Chevrolet Caprices being retired range in age from model year 2002 to 2005 and in mileage from 88,000 to 95,000.
The new cars and equipment are being financed through a $255,000 loan from BB&T Bank that was also approved by the town board on Aug. 20. The seven-year loan carries an annual interest rate of 1.94 percent, according to Lisa Moody, the town finance director.