A new Grand Island police vehicle will be used to catch criminals and grab attention.
The department hopes that the vehicle, which has a flashy vinyl wrap, will help attract recruits. The cruiser will make appearances at college job fairs and at local high schools. People who see the vehicle are encouraged to “Join our team.” Below those words are the department’s website address and phone number. Elsewhere on the vehicle it says #beGIPD.
Still, officers will ride in the vehicle while patrolling the streets as they would in any other police unit.
The Grand Island Hall County Crime Stoppers played a big role in outfitting the cruiser, which was unveiled Wednesday morning.
The Crime Stoppers group solicited $3,500 to pay for the graphics. Most of that money came from area businesses.
“It was pretty easy to raise the funds for the car,” said Jeff Williams, a Crime Stoppers board member.
Crime Stoppers members are “just happy we could help out the community,” Williams said. “Hopefully it helps with recruiting, and can bring some more officers to the department.”
Police Chief Robert Falldorf said the department’s two captains, Dean Elliott and Jim Duering, had the idea for the car.
The captains “kind of decided that we need to do something to get our image out there better,” Falldorf said.
The patrol unit has “really got some pizzaz to it” and some flash, he said. Hopefully, any individual thinking about going into law enforcement will see the vehicle and say, “Hey, they’re a progressive department,” Falldorf said. Those people might say, “That’s going to be a department I want to take a look at,” he said.
Grand Island police visit job fairs “pretty much all over the state,” including events at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and Wayne State College, Falldorf said.
Grand Island police did well with the “last group we tested,” Falldorf said. Five new officers will start work soon. If they all work out, the department will be down only one officer, he said.
The new vehicle is a 2020 law enforcement variation of a Ford Explorer.
The department already was buying a new vehicle, so the high-profile unit didn’t cost anything extra, Duering said. Miller Tire donated the wheels.
“Crime Stoppers really put this together,” Duering said. That group went out and found the donors, which is something GIPD doesn’t do, Duering said.
In addition to Miller Tire, the donors were G&H Construction, Richard Willis in memory of Eurdis Willis, Midwest Express, Central Nebraska Truck Wash, Great Plains Countertops, the Bank of Doniphan, Allen Capital Group, Diamond Plastics, Agricultural Services Inc. and Copycat Printing.
“They all pitched in,” Duering said. “So everyone came together and made this happen.”
After Hours Graphics of Aurora applied the wrap, turning the vehicle into a mobile billboard.
Dustin Hasselmann, another Crime Stoppers board member, points out that the organization is completely funded by the community. “So we operate off donations 100%,” said Hasselmann, who owns G&H Construction.
Crime Stoppers gives out rewards for tips about twice a month, the board members said.
The Grand Island Police Department, which has a 30-vehicle fleet, orders four or five police cruisers a year. The vehicles put on about 45,000 miles a year, which means they have a normal lifespan of two years. Sometimes, officers use the same vehicle two or three shifts in a row.
Police will try to keep the mileage lower than normal on the new cruiser “so we can keep it longer,” Duering said. “It may not be driven as often on patrol, but that all depends on how many cars and how many people we have.”
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