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Trending topic: Electric vehicles for public safety

While world leaders debate and approve actions to reduce methane emissions and protect forests, public safety is already putting no-emission electric vehicles into service


The Fremont Police Department believes there could be substantial savings by putting a fully electric vehicle into service as a patrol vehicle.

Photo/Fremont Police Department

While leaders from 90 countries are meeting in Glasgow, Scotland this week for the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties (COP26) to discuss climate change and strategies to slow global temperature rise, public safety organizations are already taking action.

Almost every week we receive news from public safety organizations leading the way with electric vehicle purchases, new green building construction and renovations, or efforts to better prepare police, fire and EMS for prevention of response to illness, injury or property damage caused by natural disasters.

Here are some recent news items that showcase the role of public safety inside local and state government to accelerate action on reducing emissions and the use of fossil fuels through the addition of electric vehicles to public safety fleets.

All-electric police patrol cars

Police departments, from coast-to-coast, have been adding Tesla’s to their patrol fleets for several years. In 2018, the Fremont (California) Police Department purchased a used Tesla Model S and had the vehicle outfitted into a standard cruiser. The patrol vehicle is configured and treated like any other cruiser, working up to 11 hours in two shifts a day.

Fremont PD, joining many other police departments, is having a Tesla Model Y outfitted as a patrol car. The crossover SUV Model Y might be better suited for patrol officers as it has a larger door, more rear legroom, more cargo space and a higher cargo bay.

The Eden Prairie (Minnesota) Police Department put a Tesla Model Y into service this past summer to replace a Dodge Charger. The department expects the cost of maintaining the Model Y to be close to or possibly lower than an internal combustion engine patrol car. The department plans to evaluate the vehicle’s performance, maintenance costs and operational costs before deciding on additional Model Y purchases.

Many other departments are adding Teslas to their fleets, including:

Tesla isn’t the only manufacturer of electric vehicles used by law enforcement. The Ford Mustang Mach-E was tested by the Michigan State Police to determine if it’s a viable option for law enforcement. Ford reported that the Mustang Mach-E passed the tests of acceleration, top speed, braking and high-speed pursuit, as well as emergency response handling characteristics.

The Chevy Bolt EV is used by some law enforcement agencies, but with its more compact size, lower range and recent battery problems it may have a harder time catching on with police departments who have a rapidly expanding set of vehicles to choose from. The Rivian R1T pick-up is getting rave reviews and the Ford F-150 Lightning pick-up specs and fleet price should be getting the attention of every municipal and public safety fleet manager.

Electric vehicle charging

Depending on how a public safety agency plans to charge their electric vehicles they will need to install either level 3 direct current chargers or level 2 alternating current chargers.

Level 3 chargers, like the Tesla Supercharger network, quickly replenish a vehicle’s battery but are much more expensive to install. Level 2 chargers, which most consumer electric vehicle owners use at home, are lower cost, less expensive to install, but take longer to charge the vehicle.

Leon County (Florida) Sheriff’s Office recently deployed the EV ARC solar-powered EV charging system from Beam Global to charge the department’s electric vehicles. The system generates and stores its own electricity and can be used day or night and during power outages.

Electric vehicle adoption will accelerate

Though electric vehicles are currently a fraction of a percent of total vehicle purchases by law enforcement agencies, I expect that to change rapidly in the next few years. A combination of successful implementations, lower cost, higher performance, accelerating technology, increased vehicle options and lofty carbon emissions reduction goals will drive more and more electric vehicle purchases in the years ahead.

NEXT: Meet this California PD’s tricked out Tesla

Greg Friese, MS, NRP, is the Lexipol Editorial Director, leading the efforts of the editorial team on Police1, FireRescue1, Corrections1, EMS1 and Gov1. Greg has a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a master’s degree from the University of Idaho. He is an educator, author, paramedic and runner. Greg is a three-time Jesse H. Neal award winner, the most prestigious award in specialized journalism, and 2018 and 2020 Eddie Award winner for best Column/Blog. Ask questions or submit article ideas to Greg by emailing him at and connect with him on LinkedIn.