Asheville Police Officer Boyd McCaskill says he gets a lot of thumbs up from passers by when he is patrolling his beat in the Downtown Business District. Some of that can be credited to the community outreach and increased visibility of the APD’s downtown unit, but he also thinks it has to do with his car. The APD’s Chevy Volt plug-in hybrid electric vehicle turns heads, especially in a green-minded city like Asheville.
“I have people asking me questions about the car all the time,” McCaskill says. “People say it is the sharpest looking police car they’ve seen.”
Since it was added to the city’s fleet a year ago, McCaskill has driven the cruiser a little over 4,000 miles and only used 33.7 gallons of gas. The rest of the cruiser’s energy comes from the solar powered charging station operated by Brightfield Transportation Solutions and located in the parking lot of the Public Works building at 161 South Charlotte Street. Over it’s lifetime, the vehicle has gotten around 130 mpg.
McCaskill says that there is still a role for conventional fueled vehicles on the force; their acceleration, weight and interior all make them effective for law enforcement. But the Chevy Volt is a great match for Asheville’s downtown business district where McCaskill is one of a team of Community Resource Officers.
Speed is not as crucial around downtown, the car is quieter so it’s not impacting noise in the downtown business district, and it doesn’t burn fuel while stopped at red lights.
McCaskill is the only officer that drives the volt, but he and the other officers in the downtown business district all utilize multi-modal forms of transportation, including biking, walking and riding Segways. All of these together not only save fuel but increase the officers’ visibility. That kind of contact with neighbors and business owners builds good relationships and helps foster the department’s philosophy of community policing, McCaskill says.
The City of Asheville remains committed to sustainable practices, and in 2007, Asheville City Council set a goal of reducing emissions by 80 percent by the year 2050. The city’s fleet currently includes 36 compressed natural gas vehicles, 10 electric utility carts, 13 hybrids and the Chevy Volt PHEV. Steps like that have resulted in a 17.67 percent reduction in emissions, as noted on June 21 when the U.S. Conference of Mayors recognized Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy with first place honors for climate protection efforts. Click here for more about the efforts to reduce the City of Asheville’s carbon footprint.
The Asheville Police Department’s mission is to commit to excellence through Integrity, Fairness, Respect and Professionalism. Click here for more information from the APD.