Sunday, June 27, 2010

Reverse camouflage design?

Daniel Boon of Sioux Center, Iowa restored this 1957 Chevrolet police car. (Photograph by Versluis)

As a twist on camouflage principles of concealment through displaying disruptive confusion by applying dazzle painting (Camoupedia/Behrens, p. 110) —we noticed an interesting article recently in the Sioux City Journal. Apparently, the Sioux City Police Department is going back to an earlier era and painting some of their squad cars black and white. Like a throwback to police vehicles of the 1950s, the black and white police cars are making a small comeback as a way to make them stand out and become more visible to the community. Visual design principles, such as figure and ground contrasts, are at work in the black and white painted cars.

Currently, at a distance, most police vehicles blend in with surrounding traffic. This was an issue in Sioux City neighborhoods in which people believed that police were not on patrol, not visible, thus concluding that their area was less protected and secure. Obviously this is not the case—as police are patrolling the streets as much as they ever have. Perhaps the main question citizens were asking is, “Where are our tax dollars at work?”

Here’s the full article from the Sioux City Journal:
Zerschling: No gray area in choice of cruiser color scheme

By Lynn Zerschling | Posted: Tuesday, June 1, 2010 10:15 pm

Prowling Sioux City streets is a type of vehicle people have not spotted for at least 40 years — a black and white squad car.

“It’s been in service about a week,” Police Lt. Rex Mueller said Friday.

The car marks a return to the traditional black and white police cruisers, which the Sioux City Police Department abandoned around 1970, by most reports.

A photograph of my dad, Capt. Les Zerschling, shows him standing by an all-white cruiser in front of the police station at Fifth and Water streets. As I recall, dad liked the black-and-whites better.

So do many police officers of this era, Mueller and Chief Doug Young said.

“This was a test, and it’s been accepted real well by the community,” Young said. “People like it.”

Additionally, “It was a trial to see how they (officers) liked it,” Curt Miller, city purchasing/fleet/airport director, said.

“I’ve always liked black and whites,” Young explained. “At one of our town hall meetings, one of the citizens mentioned he seldom sees a police car in his neighborhood. We thought these would be more visible.”

In addition to visibility, Young said the new squad cars will reflect departmental tradition.

“When I looked back at some old police history back in the early ’50s, Sioux City had black police cars with white doors. I’ve been on the department since 1980, and we had all-white police cars then,” Young recalled. “You always played with black-and-whites as a kid.”

Apparently, not all squad cars in the Sioux City Police Department were of the all-white or black-and-white variety. In 1970, the force’s paddy wagon was painted blue and white. From at least 1972-74; the units were painted a robin’s egg blue and white, according to a departmental history book.

I don’t remember seeing the bird's-egg-colored squad cars.

The new black-and-white model, which is assigned to the traffic unit, is a Chevy Impala and cost around $22,000.

Miller said plans call for ordering nine more black-and-whites this year and nine the following year as part of the department's vehicle replacement program.

“We will have to wait until the new pricing comes out after September and then will place them out for bid,” he said. “Delivery will be in the spring. ... We run them over 100,000 miles before we replace them.”

The cars will be delivered as all-black, and a local body shop will paint the doors white and apply the decals and name.

Mueller, an accomplished artist, noted, “I designed the graphics for the car and designed the badges on the car,” which will be the same on the newly acquired cruisers.

From what he has heard around the department, Mueller said, “The officers are excited about it. The only problem is that it’s going to be a slow transition.”

1 comment:

  1. Here in Sioux Center, I find the police cars stand out despite being dark blue. I do like the look of the old style black and whites better.


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