TRAVELERS REST, S.C. (WSPA) – The Travelers Rest Police Department is looking for ways to help the environment while cracking down on violators.
You may not hear them, but you will see them with the addition of two new police Teslas.
In a city with a population just shy of 8,000, Travelers Rest Police officers are constantly patrolling the streets.
“What we have decided to do here in the city is a pilot program for electric patrol vehicles,” Chief Ben Ford, Travelers Rest Police, said. “These two vehicles behind me were the first two that we’re giving a shot.”
Chief Ford is spearheading a new initiative, hoping to go green with the addition of new electric vehicles.
“We really want to try to do our part to see if we can save on money for the city,” according to Chief Ford.
The Teslas have been at the department for about a year now, however, they were not “street ready” until recently.
Officer Henry Blake was one of the first to get behind the wheel of the police Tesla and patrol the streets.
“Safety first,” Officer Blake said as he buckled his seatbelt.
Officers said it has unique features, like a quick, assisted stop that allows them to focus more on the vehicles while they are in pursuit.
“The safety features on here lets me focus on the vehicle in front of me,” Officer Blake said. “It has early warning stop detection, so if I’m getting too close to the vehicle in pursuit it actually starts breaking even more for me so I’m not so much focused on my driving, per se, but the vehicle in front of me.”
If you have traveled through TR, the chances are, you have seen or even encountered one of their officers.
“What I’m basically looking for is speeders because our speed limit downtown is 25 miles per hour. Most people get kind of thrown off when they are coming off a high-speed area,” according to Officer Blake. “We are looking for those violators and also registrations that have expired on vehicle tags and just various other violations that occur when people are out and about.”
While it is not recommended to run from the police, officers said the new vehicles make it harder to do.
“These cars are very quick,” Chief Ford explained. “We don’t do a lot of chasing over long distances. But when we need to catch the violator, we can catch them quicker in these cars.”
Even with all of the added features, officers said it’s not much different than driving a typical patrol car, other than it being electric and having a lower maintenance bill.
“In the past year, we have spent zero on maintenance. There’s no oil in them. There’s no fuel for them. They are full electric; nothing but electricity,” Chief Ford said.
That’s one of the reasons Chief Ford believes the vehicles will pay for themselves in the long run.
“We anticipate in four to five years, that extra that we paid upfront will equal out what we paid in fuel, oil changes, etcetera,” Chief Ford said.
Of course, when you hear the name Tesla, you may think about the price tag.
Compared to other vehicles, police said you may be surprised.
“The cost of Ford Explorers, the police vehicles, have went up drastically. The difference in a Tesla Model Y and a Ford Explorer is only a few thousand dollars now,” according to Chief Ford. “If it turns out to not be a good thing than of we’ll back up and try something new. If it is a great thing, than maybe other agencies will follow suit.”
Chief Ford said they are looking into adding more Teslas to their fleet of patrol cars, with hopes to save the city even more money down the line.