Double take: Yes, that’s a Tesla Bargersville police is driving

<p>Bargersville police has become the first department in the state to add a 2019 Tesla to its fleet of police cars, joining New York taxi drivers, the residents of Switzerland and police departments in California and Denver in embracing the safety standards and gas savings.</p>
<p>A Tesla is an all-electric vehicle. There is no engine, and it does not run on gas, but rather a battery charge or solar energy. The all-wheel drive Model 3 can do 0 to 60 in 3.2 seconds. But no, the Bargersville police car will not have auto-pilot, and a police officer will be in full control every time you see it.</p>
<p>So who gets to cruise the town in the latest technological innovation? Police Chief Todd Bertram said the town council wants him to have it.</p>
<p>“They didn’t have to twist my arm,” Bertram joked Thursday during the reveal of the car to the public. Today will be the Tesla’s first day on the road patrolling the town of nearly 8,000 residents.</p>[sc:text-divider text-divider-title="Story continues below gallery" ]Click here to purchase photos from this gallery
<p>Earlier this year, the town council OK’d the purchase, but Bertram was still researching the costs, benefits and possible drawbacks, such as not having the ability to stop for gas when it’s running low. Instead, if the car has a low battery, he will have to head to the police station to charge it up.</p>
<p>“We’re pretty proud of this. It’s exciting times,” Bertram said. “The council asked a year ago for us to find unique ways to save money within our department, and this is what we came up with.”</p>
<p>They may add more Tesla’s to their fleet in the future. This first one is a trial run, which is why the council wanted Bertram to drive it.</p>
<p>One unknown is how long an electrical charge will power the car, since police equipment will be an added drain on the charge. Tesla estimates the car can operate for 240 miles per charge, but equipment, such as patrol lights and sirens, as well as air conditioning, reduce that mileage, possibly by about 50 miles, Bertram said.</p>
<p>Officers drive about 80 to 120 miles per day while answering calls or patrolling neighborhoods.</p>
<p>Other than that, the department didn’t sacrifice anything by switching out one of its vehicles, he said.</p>
<p>“Two things we were looking at when we were shopping cars were cost and performance. Many times when you get a car that’s in our price range, you sacrifice performance. With the Tesla, performance is even better than the cars we are currently driving,” Bertram said.</p>
<p>“It’s smooth. It’s powerful. It handles great.”</p>
<p>His study showed that the town would start saving money, as compared to its standard purchase of a Dodge Charger, after 26 months.</p>
<p>The purchase price of the Tesla Model 3 at $41,945 is more expensive than the Charger at $33,612. But the Tesla is estimated to cost the town about $1,674 per year in electricity for charging, and has no fuel expenses, Bertram said. By comparison, the town spends about $7,200 per year in gas for a Charger, according to the town’s estimate.</p>
<p>The fuel savings will quickly make up for the initial increased purchase price, according to the town’s analysis.</p>
<p>On insurance expenses, the Tesla wins again, coming in at more than $200 per year cheaper. The tires are cheaper and the brakes are cheaper, and better too, as the Tesla is known to have better braking power.</p>
<p>Over the course of five years, the Tesla is estimated to cost the taxpayers $51,725. The standard Charger costs $68,000. That’s a 24 percent savings.</p>
<p>The purchase is part of the department’s overall goal to grow the police department without dramatically increasing spending or taxes. The department is adding one Tesla now, but will document its usage and expenses. If the estimates hold, more could be added, Bertram said. The town has 12 full-time officers and each are assigned a vehicle.</p>
<p>Bertram has said he would request two new officers in the 2020 budget, then two more in 2023 if the town’s growth continues. But whether the department grows is up to the town council, he said.</p>
<p>“I think the goal with the council and their decision was to try to minimize the cost of hiring new staff,” Bertram said. “The council knows we need to expand. We’re going to have to expand to some degree.”</p>
<p>It costs the town about $100,000 to start a new officer, he said.</p>
<p>“That’s the reason that this came about. We’re a growing community. We need to hire more staff. We need a new police department,” he said.</p>