New KU police cars feature student designs
- Aug. 18, 2011
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If the KU patrol cars look different as they begin driving around campus this week, it’s not because you forgot what they looked like over summer vacation. The KU Public Safety Office has replaced the old Ford Crown Victorias with four new Dodge Chargers, featuring student-designed graphics.
The department gets new patrol cars every three or four years, said Chris Keary, assistant chief of police services. The cost of the four cars with the added equipment and design was around $100,000. The cars being replaced will have their graphics removed and join the fleet of unmarked vehicles.
The chargers have V6 engines as opposed to V8s, and they can use E-85 gasoline, which will save on fuel costs. But the distinct look will likely be the most notable change.
Keary said in past years the graphics for cars were designed in-house, but this year they asked students from the School of Design to share their ideas. Several designs were presented to Chief Ralph Oliver and elements were taken from two of them.
Andrew Meier was a freshman last year when he turned in his design featuring blue bands that wrap around the car, outlined in reflective red paint. George Ressler, a senior when he submitted his design, incorporated blue strips on the hood that encircled the headlights.
“It was very minimalistic,” said Ressler of his original design. “It’s always good to collaborate. I think they took the best of both designs and made a pretty kick ass design,”
The office likes that the graphic separates its cars from other local law enforcement and catches people’s attention.
“One of the prime factors of any police car is visibility,” Keary said. “We want people to see the cars we put around campus.”
Jeremy Shellhorn, assistant professor of visual communication, oversaw the design competition and was happy to give students an opportunity to design such a high-profile project. He said he hopes the department will ask design students for their input in the future.
“It was a pretty fast project. I’m sure there were probably some things that we would have explored more if we had more time,” Shellhorn said. “But it’s a good first hello in a relationship and hopefully they’ll want to collaborate with us again in a more formal setting.”
— Edited by Ben Chipman
Edited by Ben Chipman