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Council discusses police car paint jobs

March 26, 2013|By Barbara Diamond

The city will pay $28,843 for a new police department vehicle, but it won't look like the once-ubiquitous Crown Victorias — no longer manufactured — and if at least one city official has his way it won't be the same color.

During the March 19 meeting, Councilman Steve Dicterow said he preferred a different paint job for the new vehicle than the historical blue and white color scheme, also used for other city vehicles.

"I think this is a good time to consider going back the traditional black and white," Dicterow said. "The consistency with other city vehicles is a problem for me, not a benefit."

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Planning Commissioner Anne Johnson, speaking only for herself, said she, her children or out-of-town guests never had any doubt the blue and whites were police cars.

"They set Laguna apart," Johnson said. "Black and white is a very hostile color palette."

Mayor Kelly Boyd advised the council and Dicterow to put the topic on a future agenda.

However during public comment, Laguna Beach Police Employee Assn. President Larry Bammer, who spoke in support of the purchase of the new patrol car that was on the agenda, stated his support of Dicterow's position.

"My entire organization supports changing the color scheme to something more traditional that all of Orange County, except Irvine, uses," Bammer said.

Laguna's patrol cars have a shelf life of about three years, City Manager John Pietig advised the council. Changing the color scheme is up to the council, he added.

"You could change them over time or require the fleet to change all at once," Pietig said.

The police department advised him that the cars could be repainted for about $600 each.

Graphics on the vehicles would be peeled off before painting and reapplied, at little or no cost.  

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Color choice

Laguna's police vehicles were first painted white in 1970, according to Neal Purchell Jr., who was named a national "Top Cop" in 1975, promoted to interim police chief in 1981 and full-time chief a year later.

During that time, Purcell added the blue stripe, enlarged the size of the word "Police" and added "Proudly Serving Our Community" to the vehicles.

The blue and white patrol cars were a major component of community policing, — a policy designed to bring the community and the department into a partnership — which was in its infancy in the early '80s, Purcell said on Monday.

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