I am definitely in favor of the change to black and white patrol cars, as is most every police officer in the SMPD. The color combination is instantly recognizable as a police vehicle by residents and potential lawbreakers. Tourists from other countries equate black and white vehicles as police cars in the United States.In the past, our cars have been mistaken for other types of service vehicles, including taxis. With the advent of the new low profile LED light bars, our police cars have become even less distinguishable as law enforcement vehicles at any distance.I have always believed that police cars should be painted in this universally recognized paint combination. The overwhelming majority of police departments in California wear navy blue uniforms, sheriff departments wear a combination of tan and green, while marshal officers customarily wear tan. Security personnel usually are attired in grey or a combination of white shirts with navy slacks. The purpose is the same; easy identification and separation of law enforcement personnel from civilian personnel. Another consistency in 90% of California police agencies is the use of black and white police cars, regardless of type of agency. The color combination is not used in any private security endeavor. Blue & white, on the other hand, is used by many private security companies, utility entities and is a common taxi paint scheme found in the United States and Europe. In the past, foreign tourists have mistaken our police cars for taxis.I have advocated black and white cars since I came to Santa Monica for the purpose of visibility and instant recognizability. A year ago, the Council wanted the new City logo incorporated on all City vehicles. The City design firm responsible for the new logo developed several design examples with various color schemes incorporating the logo (white, blue and white, blue, black and white). The preference of the design experts and myself was the black and white rendering largely for the reasons articulated above. The City Council ratified the decision Tuesday.Sincerely,James T. Butts, Jr.Chief of Police
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