Manvel’s Chief of Police defended the markings of the city’s fleet of Tahoe cruisers at this week’s city council meeting. Council member Adrian Gaspar asked council to consider directing the city manager to press the chief to use larger, more conspicuous markings for the vehicles. Gaspar has been a police officer for the City of Houston for years and in his appeal used a photo history of Houston’s experience with the issue.
Gaspar feels the markings are not “as bold and big” as previous city cruisers and those used by nearby jurisdictions. He believes when they drive through town people are not clear that it is a police vehicle: “I don’t want any doubt in people’s mind that when that patrol car drives down the street it is not mistaken for being anything else than a police car.”
Mayor Delores Martin disagreed with Gaspar saying she has not heard one negative comment. Citizens have expressed to her “a comfort level when our police Tahoes do come by, they do recognize the car.” She does not feel the same level of conspicuity evident on ambulances and fire trucks is needed on a police vehicle. “Are we going to be so visible that we are going to look like a neon sign?”
Police Chief Keith Traylor explained to council that several officers requested modifying the graphics when the Tahoe’s were ordered last year. What is currently on the vehicles is what they came up with. Traylor said he “let the officers choose (the graphics), they drive it every day, I let them make the decision what they wanted to do.”
Traylor went on to say the members of the department believe “the graphics we have are clean, they look professional, they are not gaudy, they are community oriented, and believe me, they do see them. I have had nothing but positive comments from people in the community on how these cars look. When I drive through the neighborhoods people wave at me, I wave back, and they know I am a police officer. I think the cars show a positive and professional image.”
Member Lew Shuffler conceded there have been several times when he required a second look “to make sure that is a police car.” Saying he is not sure what difference it makes he did say it “is sometimes difficult to tell.” Other members did not see the need to take any action on Gaspar’s request and the matter was closed.