Atlanta PD reveals new police cruiser design by university students

The cars are part of APD’s new take-home car program, featuring new decals conceptualized by Savannah College of Art and Design students

By Shaddi Abusaid
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

ATLANTA — Updated technology, a little more cargo space and a sleek new design created by local art students.

Atlanta police unveiled the department’s new patrol cruisers Wednesday morning along with a program that will allow more officers to take those SUVs home.

The city’s mayor and police chief say the new rides, which are painted black instead of blue, will replace some of APD’s worn-out vehicles and hopefully attract new officers looking to park those cars outside their homes at night.

The city bought 40 2022 Ford Explorers for its take-home car program, Atlanta Mayor Andre Dickens said. The new decals, which feature red and blue stripes, were designed by students at the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Atlanta campus.

At a little over $60,000 a pop for fully equipped models, the SUVs will be assigned to some patrol officers who live inside city limits, Dickens said. He and police Chief Darin Schierbaum are hopeful the program will boost morale among officers while reducing crime in their neighborhoods.

In his conversations with officers across the city’s six zones, Dickens said the desire for take-home cars was evident.

“They serve as a crime deterrent,” he said. “If a would-be criminal were to see a police car parked in a driveway or inside a parking deck, they’re much less likely to commit a crime.”

The department’s current patrol vehicles are shared by up to three officers each and are basically driven around-the-clock, department officials said. Because they’re used during all three shifts, those cars and SUVs rack up mileage and tend to age quickly.

Officers with their own patrol cars typically take more pride in their vehicles, the mayor said, which increases the life of the cruisers while reducing repair costs.

In addition to the 40 Ford Explorers that will be assigned to officers, the department purchased 70 new Dodge Chargers. Some of those cars will replace outdated vehicles at precincts across the city and the remainder will be used for the first phase of the the take-home program, said Peter Aman, the agency’s chief administrative officer.

Schierbaum, who shed his interim title and became the permanent chief on Monday, called it an exciting day for his department. He also noted it’s been two decades since Atlanta’s fleet of cruisers last had a makeover.

“When we look at the No. 1 reason officers want to stay with the Atlanta Police Department, a take-home car is at the top of the list,” Schierbaum said.

Following the unveiling of the new design, two patrol officers were handed the keys to their new vehicles.

Officer Gabriel Sey, who patrols southwest Atlanta’s Zone 4, called the program “a fantastic step in the right direction.”

“I never thought that a car could be such a boost,” said Sey, who has been with department nearly a decade. With the older cruises in constant use, Sey said it’s not uncommon to see officers driving cars with nearly 200,000 miles on them.

He believes the take-home program will increase morale among the rank-and-file while helping to attract new recruits.

“I think it’s great,” the 33-year-old field training officer said. “It’s something that keeps Atlanta competitive.”

The cars’ new design was created by SCAD students and voted on by APD employees. Several art students who designed the decals were on hand Wednesday to catch a glimpse of the finished product.

“I think it looks amazing,” said Candace Stewart, a senior studying illustration. She and her team created four designs over a two-day period that were submitted for the final vote.

“I’m really happy with the way it turned out,” she said.

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