Police cars in Marion, S.C. have a new look, after a $40,000 grant to replace older vehicles was utilized by the department to buy used S.C. Highway Patrol cars.
The new look is causing some confusion with Marion residents, however. "Sometimes when I get pulled over, I think it's the state trooper pulling me over, but really it's Marion Police," said Jamal Hemingway. "But now that I see it's a Marion cop, I feel better," notedHemingway, referring to the higher state fines issued by the Highway Patrol.
The department was able to puchase seven vehicles, five more than if they'd bought the cars new. Two are unmarked and being used undercover.
MPD Chief Willie Smith says the cars are durable and in good condition. "We utilize our cars 24 hours a day, 7 days a week,'" Smith says. "That puts quite a bit of stress and strain on the vehicle."
The department has also chosen a new color scheme. The new cars are gray, as opposed to the original red, white and blue, lending to the confusion. But the MPD says the new color scheme helps them cut costs. Adding more cars also helps the maintenance budget by lessening the mileage on each vehicle.
Leverne Thompson, who works in Marion, believes the new cars may help the department. " It sort of makes people behave a little differently," she says. "So it's probably a good thing."
The new patrol cars have some equipment the original cars didn't have, such as an external light bar, a control pad for lights and sirens, and a shotgun holder. Officers say police also have more of a presence, as the headlights are much brighter.
The replacement cars will be on the road by October. It is the first time the MPD is replacing their cars with cars from another law enforcement agency. The original cars will be phased out as they get older and auctioned off to the public.