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City goes with gas for new police fleet

The city of Snoqualmie has been pushing for greener practices and a building an eco-friendly fleet of city-owned cars.

But greening up the city's police car fleet is proving to be a bit more difficult.

Last Monday, the Snoqualmie City Council approved purchase of five new patrol vehicles — two 2009 Chevrolet Silverado pickups and three Chevrolet Tahoes, costing about $148,000 in total — that run on straight gasoline.

City staff and councilmembers had considered buying hybrids. But in the end, council members voted unanimously to go with gas, and readied themselves to back up their decision to a potentially skeptical public.

Wondered how green-minded citizens would feel about seeing new trucks and SUVs on patrol, Councilwoman Maria Henriksen asked whether the city could explore its options with a single hybrid Toyota Highlander patrol vehicle.

It wouldn't be the first time Snoqualmie has led the way on an issue, she added.

But other council members stated that the city is not ready to be the test bed for electric-hybrid patrol vehicles, considering Snoqualmie's snow- and flood-prone nature.

"These are police cars, and police cars have a job to do," said councilman Jeff MacNichols.

Snoqualmie currently has four hybrid vehicles in its fleet. One of those is Police Chief Jim Schaffer's command car.

Mileage comparison statistics provided to the Valley Record show some difference in mileage between hybrid and non-hybrid police vehicles considered by the city. The gas Tahoes purchased by the city a little over half the gas mileage of a Toyota Highlander hybrid. Those statistics, however, don't account for driving conditions, uneven terrain or heavy loads.

Snoqualmie police hope to embrace the green movement as soon as it is practicable, cost-effective and works with equipment standards used by law enforcement, Snoqualmie Police Captain Edward Jany told the Record.

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