If people on campus haven’t seen them already, slick new cars with familiar markings are cruising around Belmont.
Campus Security recently adopted four new Ford Fusion Hybrids into its fleet of patrol cars, replacing the previously used Ford Crown Victorias.
The office wanted to update its fleet with more sustainable cars, and while several options were considered, security decided hybrids were the ideal vehicle for patrolling a campus the size of Belmont, Chief of Campus Security Pat Cunningham said.
“We were trying to find the best fit for what we do,” Cunningham said. “We looked at everything. We looked at propane powered vehicles, we looked at all electric vehicles. With the electrical vehicles the challenge would be on a 24/7 operation, how do you keep them charged? For propane, obviously there’s limitations, we’re not set up for the infrastructure for propane vehicles.”
In the end, Cunningham settled on hybrids after looking at other university security offices and police agencies across the U.S. The idea for the Ford Fusions in particular came from the New York Police Department, which also uses that model, he said.
The hybrids are on a six-year trade schedule with security and the local Ford dealership, while the Crown Vics were on a four-year schedule. This helps offset the initial cost of the cars since repairs to the vehicles aren’t necessary as often.
Additional saving also comes from how the cars are used, and in an area like Belmont, patrol cars don’t use much gas to begin with, Cunningham said.
“We’re not like Tennessee Highway Patrol running vehicles up and down the interstate. It’s a small geographic area, lots of starts and stops, lots of sitting, lots of idling,” he said.
This, coupled with the hybrid’s posted mileage of 42 miles to the gallon, is why Cunningham is expecting the fleet’s fuel consumption to drop by half, he said.
The new vehicles are expected to save Campus Security an average of $5,000 a year for their six-year life cycle.
“That’s everything from the cost of the vehicle to the maintenance and repair and the fuel. We think that when we get to the end of the six-year cycle we’ll have vehicle that will really retain some resale value,” Cunningham said.
While the cars are going to save money, Cunningham also said they are part of an effort by Campus Security to update its image.
“It started with just an annual review of how we do things,” Cunningham said. “We’re looking at our policy and procedure, we’re looking at our training. We’re looking at our uniforms; we want to make that more Belmont specific.”
The cars incorporate the new Campus Security logo, displays the Bell Tower surrounded by a security badge. The new symbol, coupled with the streamlined appearance of the vehicle, project a professional image for Campus Security and the university it serves, said Cunningham.
“I think it’s important that in anything we do we represent Belmont well, and that includes our vehicles,” he said.