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Cruisers as Billboards

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  • Cruisers as Billboards

    What are your thoughts on this cost saving venture? I know a lot of depts that are seeing the numbers get crunched - this could help a lot of them out.

    Councilman eyes free squad cars - with ads

    Would it matter to you if the police cruiser that responded to your 911 call sported McDonald's golden arches across its hood? What about a Yahoo! logo on the trunk or, perhaps, a Hooters girl on the side door?

    What if the advertisements meant that that $26,000 Crown Victoria wouldn't cost the city or its taxpayers a penny?


    A computer-generated example of a cruiser with an advertising logo, from Charlotte, N.C.-based Government Acquisitions LLC.

    It's an idea one Omaha city leader is investigating in the name of city savings and public safety.

    City Councilman Garry Gernandt, a retired police sergeant, said he got the notion from news accounts about a Florida town that recently signed a deal to get 15 free cruisers through a North Carolina marketing company.

    Charlotte-based Government Acquisitions LLC finds businesses to pay for fully equipped police cruisers in exchange for "rolling three-year billboards" - advertising painted right on the cars.

    Gernandt said he's hopeful something similar could help Omaha bolster its police fleet.

    Sgt. Dan Cisar, a police spokesman, said the Omaha Police Department has 249 cruisers now, 102 of them with more than 100,000 miles. To minimize maintenance costs, the department projects that it needs to replace a third of its fleet - about 83 cruisers - each year. Omaha's 2003 budget includes money for just 10 new police cruisers.

    That's why Gernandt has asked the City Law Department to investigate the legal ins and outs of a sponsorship system: how to fairly choose companies, avoid conflicts of interest and determine the size, number and type of ads. He also is checking with Springfield, Fla., and other cities about how they do it.

    "We'd have to be discreet, I suppose," said Gernandt, who added jokingly: "But I personally wouldn't mind driving the Hooter car."

    Paul Landow, chief of staff for Mayor Mike Fahey, said the administration appreciates Gernandt's intention to save money but has serious reservations about how the advertising could affect police and their public image.

    "Our major concerns would go to the professionalism of the police force," Landow said. ". . . In the perception of the public, the police officer could be compromised by commercial interests."

    But Omaha Police Union President Tim Andersen said he thinks the idea is worth exploring.

    "My only reservation would be which companies would be allowed to advertise," he said. "We wouldn't want anything with liquor or something that would look detrimental to the department."

    Not to worry, said Ken Allison, managing partner of Government Acquisitions. The company tailors each contract to the local law enforcement agency's preferences - from conservative mini-logos here and there to full-body ads that make some police vehicles look more like race cars. It prohibits advertisements for alcohol, tobacco, firearms or gambling.

    "And we don't do Hooters," he said.

    Allison's company has been doing car sponsorship of another sort - for NASCAR race cars - for about 20 years. It changed gears, so to speak, after Sept. 11, 2001.

    "Our objective is to provide a vehicle for every officer and to replace that vehicle every three years," he said.

    The company got its first police-car contract in May with Mooresville, N.C. - a town of about 40,000 that bills itself as "Race City, U.S.A." and went with some full-car ads. Three Florida cities - Springfield, Dade City and Lake Wales - signed on earlier this month.

    Allison said at least 12 law enforcement agencies, most of them in the southeastern United States, have signed contracts with the company, and hundreds have inquired, thanks to news media coverage. No department has yet received its cars.

  • #2
    Nationally, and Divisionally, my Force is VERY restrictive on such deals.

    Having said that, however, some of our general duty, or even traffic services, vehicles in this Division carry decals from the local cell phone dealer, in recognition of lower costs for, or free, installation of equipment.

    We have a Sargeant who is our Division's CrimeStoppers co-ordinator, and the van that he uses in provided gratis by a well-known GM dealer (who happens to be one of our retired members), so it includes a prominent dealer logo.

    Many other RCMP Divisions and Detachments across the country, as well as other Municipal Police Services, have similar deals for their CrimeStoppers, community service or school liaison officer programs.

    I would be more than a little uncomfortable operating vehicles obtained under the kind of contracts that DeputyDawg describes. 1 car per member is nice, but not necessary - if a jurisdiction can not afford 1 vehicle per 2 members, then maybe the politicos and/or public have to start making better decisions on taxes and/or budgets.
    #32936 - Royal Canadian Mounted Police - 1975-10-27 / 2010-12-29
    Proud Dad of #54266 - RCMP - 2007-02-12 to date
    RCMP Veterans Association - Regina Division member
    Mounted Police Professional Association of Canada - Associate (Retired) member
    "Smile" - no!

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    • #3
      It'll be like something out of RoboCop with the corporations sponsoring the PD and eventually running them. The down size is corporate america doesn't pay squat in wages.

      I can see bail bonds companies lining up to have their numbers on the cars....that way when joe badguy is face down on the sidepanel, he has something to read and remember. [Wink]
      [email protected]
      ---------------------------

      It's better to die happy..........than just die

      May Tyr watch over and guide my hand each day.........to do the right thing

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      • #4
        The negatives outweigh the positives.

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        • #5
          Why stop with just units? Why not bold-colored patches on the LEO uniform?

          And don't overlook the opportunity to utilize the common traffic citation: It could be overstamped with some logo in subtle shades.

          Pepsi or Nike could use the seat of the officer pants for logo display (cameras always seem to focus on the back of the officers at a crime scene).

          Jesssssssus Christ!

          Jim Burnes

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          • #6
            What's wrong with firearms???
            Bill R

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            • #7
              If I were a business owner, I'd shy away from advertising on police vehicles should the opportunity arise. It could actually be detrimental to business.

              "When the officer pulled me over and gave me a ticket, there was a logo for XYZ company on the door. I'll be damned if I ever shop there again!"

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              • #8
                Let's just hope Target will not want thier logo displayed on the cruisers or uniformes. [Eek!]
                "Do not let any one claim to be a true American if they ever attempt to remove religion from politics."
                --George Washington

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                • #9
                  It's bad enough now driving a white car in an area where the patrol cars a predominantly black/white. I can't tell you how many times I've been driving at night, and have someone flag me over, only to say "oops. Sorry. I thought you were a cab."

                  Advertisements on patrol cars? I think it's a bad idea. Before you know it, you'll stop an employee of one of those sponsors, and be faced with losing the car / sponsorship by writing the ticket, or by giving everyone warnings because their company provided the car.

                  free cars would be nice, but, there has got to be a limit.

                  Besides, our GO's specifically prohibit acceptance of gratuities ... isn't this the same thing, only on a larger scale?
                  I want to die in my sleep like my grandfather ... not screaming and yelling like the passengers in his car.

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