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Police Officer Gives 6 Reasons Why Tesla Model S Isn't a Good Patrol Car

As Denver joins Los Angeles employing Tesla cars one man claiming to be a police officer explains why Tesla Model S is not yet fully suited to be a police patrol car, giving six valid reasons.

There is an interesting discussion on Reddit about the first ever Tesla Model S Police vehicle being spotted in Denver. As the short video shows it has custom interior and sirens built in. It does look very nice, but one user who says he is a patrol officer in a large metropolitan city explains why Model S is not yet a viable vehicle for police patrol. His points are very interesting and worth noting.

Daily LEO patrol officer here in a large metropolitan city.

While I own an X and it would be awesome to have a Model S as a patrol car, I can tell you we are at least 10 years away from seeing any.

Tesla Model S blue and white would make a great community affairs car just like LAPD has, but otherwise it is not really viable.

6 Reasons Tesla Model S Is Not Viable for Patrol

1) Not everyone is an EV driver. Many old timers would not adapt well. When on patrol we tend to be more heavy footed than we are usually driving our regular civilian vehicles. Out of my Crown Vic's 19 gallon tank, I burn easily 9 gallons a shift. I run about 140 miles during that shift. That means I run almost as the stated mpg of 17 on this vehicle.

2) Which leads to range. Every single car used will have to charge nightly. You can't start a shift down to 50% SOC. We don't even like running half tank to start our shift. With that said, one mistake of forgetting to keep track which vehicles need to charge will cause that vehicle to be down for the next shift.

3) Electronics. We have our radios, our computers, our built in radars, horn, and lights. They are usually run off the 12v battery and the car must be idling or else it'll die. You can say that's a plus for electronics but it isn't considering the next point:

4) Idling. A patrol car spends most of its life idling, running the AC full blast during the summer. Officers who aren't used to EV will not get used to monitoring the electrical charge and thus will be reluctant to go back to the station(which is downtime, causing your beat partners to cover you) to go in and change to a charged vehicle and also offload and load their gear back. It'll be a hassle.

5) Pursuits. While a fast car is nice for pursuits, the likely of a pursuit isn't happening and honestly you don't need a super-car like acceleration to do pursuits. While it's important to catch a suspect in a crime, it's also important that the officer goes home to their family and others don't get hurt in a wreck. Police work is pretty mundane. Dangerous but usually boring.

6) Maintenance. You expect 15 year veteran mechanics to train to repair an Tesla? Many of them groaned when the switch to the Taurus came about, imagine a Tesla. The Crown Vic was incredibly easy to repair and reliable.

And lastly, most officers will get a vehicle dispatch to them that is shared. Imagine that grossness of that Tesla.

Image source: Screenshot from a video on Reddit, linked above.


Mike (not verified)    September 15, 2017 - 12:46PM

Funny there is no mention of acquisition cost. I'm sure there is quite a disparity between a Tesla Model S and a Dodge Charger/Crown Vic/Ford Taurus etc.

Robert (not verified)    September 15, 2017 - 1:23PM

Not a single one of his reasons are valid except for training the old mechanics. A Tesla would a 100KW battery would easily run all day and power all of the electronics without having to have the engine idling. The main battery pack would keep the 12V battery charged. Yes the car would need to be charged back up at night staring with a fresh battery in the morning. Alerting systems could be put in place to alert if somebody forgot to plug the car in. As for the mechanics EVs are easier to maintain which may lead to some of the old timers losing their jobs since they won't need as many of them.

The only downside I can think of which is not listed is Tesla's are more expensive to repair but maybe in bulk the city could negotiate better terms.

Gary (not verified)    September 16, 2017 - 4:47AM

In reply to by Robert (not verified)

+1. You can idle the car for 7 hours with the AC on and only use 10% of the battery. Maintenance would take training, but there is very little to do. Reports are coming in of Tesla S owners with 250,000 miles with greater than 90% of the original battery capacity available.

WN (not verified)    September 16, 2017 - 2:00AM

None of these arguments make Any sense. Clearly the writer got stuck with some 100 mile EV and never drove a Tesla. The Model 3 extended has a 310 mile range at 44k$ base (before police mods), Electronics and AC won't come near to impacting his 140 mile day. Electric cars are Much more reliable and easier to maintain. They are Much cheaper to run (see all the Tesla taxi feedback). They waste no energy in "idle". These are fleet vehicles, meaning superchargers can be installed and bring the car up to 80% (240 miles) in 30 minutes or less. Item 5 "A super fast care isn't necessary" for pursuits...... so .... ? That's actually listed as a Bad thing?? Police officers can't handle fast cars? This guy's clearly been traumatized by a Nissan Leaf.

Eric (not verified)    September 16, 2017 - 1:28PM

How is this article, regarding the poorly construed opinions of an unnamed person, who claims to be a police officer, who doesn't even mention which city he patrols, get an appearance on Google News? Here are the pros of a Tesla cop car over a gas powered cop car:

1. Tesla electric cars require virtually no maintenance - When gas cars are in idle, they're still burning gas and the engine is still running, sometimes a cop car without that many miles will still have a slew of mechanicle issues from the thousands of hours of idle time. Idling does not affect the mechanics of Tesla vehicles or how they operate, and as another comment had mentioned, the climate control and electronics being powered by the car would have a minor effect on the battery charge over the course of a 12 hour shift. An incredible amount of money would be saved over the life of the Tesla cop car when you consider the average gas and maintenance costs of gas powered cop cars. Not to mention, a Tesla cop car may have a 20+ year life span given how long the battery lasts and how few mechanical issues they have, not to mention that with software updates the cars could patrol or return to HQ all by themselves in the future!

2. Superchargers are free - until the end of this year, all Model S and Model X vehicles get free supercharging for life, and in 30 minutes they can charge up to 170 miles of range. Keeping the vehicles charged would not be an issue, and Tesla is about to set up supercharging stalls outside grocery stores and other convenient locations in the near future, so they're going to be everywhere very soon. If the police department and city were funded well enough, they could probably get Tesla to install several at the police station itself.

3. Performance, safety and room - Tesla's have superior acceleration, braking and safety compared to virtually all other vehicles out there. There are few cars that could out accelerate a Model S which now does 0-60 in about 4 seconds standard. Tesla does limit the top speed to 140mph, but how many chases exceed that speed before an accident happens? Also, the Model S has the highest safety rating ever, so in case the cop is in an accident, he's likely to walk away with minor injuries at most. The Model S also has 30 cubic feet of cargo room, which would probably come in handy, first aid equipment and miscellaneous supplies could be store in the front trunk for convenience.

4. 8 Hi-Definition Cameras and a Supercomputer - All Tesla's made after Oct 2016 have the capability for fully autonomous driving in the future. There are 8 HD cameras which surround the vehicle, and in the near future, may be able to record everything that goes on around the vehicle, which would be perfect for surveillance and protecting the cop car at all times. The supercomputer in these next gen Tesla's has the equivalent processing power of 150 Macbooks, and the central display could most likely function as a law enforecement computer as well with a special software update. They can currently drive themselves on the highway, so the cop could multi-task while in route to his destination when on the highway. Did I mention earlier that they'll be able to patrol all by themselves in the future as well?

These are some of the finer points of why a Tesla would make the ultimate cop car. I'm a former military cop and currently own the Model S and Model X.

Mark Johnson (not verified)    September 16, 2017 - 8:40PM

Robert is spot on. I would add fuel savings with high mileage service and design front Tesla, which could be incentivized to gain millions of high value miles. This article and argument is basically "well some government employees can't adopt to changing realities and gee whiz, no way around that."

Fearnsy (not verified)    September 17, 2017 - 3:48AM

As soon as any article is written without a named source I immediately take the whole article with a pinch of salt!

Martin Wiescholek (not verified)    May 31, 2019 - 5:33AM

sat in a budget meeting yesterday discussing t he purchase of a new police car. Our cars run 70miles per day and use 6gal according to t he officers I talked to. We cycle out police cars after 3 years to avoid getting them over the 75,000 Mile powertrain warranty.
makes no sense not to look at an electric vehicle. I disagree though that it should be an "S", the base "3" is a much better choice.

I will be speaking with our chief this coming week and will make a recommendation to the town commission about switching to EV for at least half the fleet. We are a coastal community and need to be proactive about rising sea levels and climate change.

..and if the car is too fast for you....just drive slower. The gas pedal works the same way the one on the Crown Vic does.

Elver gudo (not verified)    June 17, 2021 - 11:50PM

At some point they have to change gas patrols to electric cars is cheaper and they cops are getting old who will patrol streets but young police officers in the future besides gas money is to much compared to electricity cost he is just way off