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Lathrop Police roll out all white SUV as patrol vehicle
police line

Think you’re pretty good at spotting police vehicles before they spot you?

Lathrop Police Services thinks otherwise.

Earlier this month the agency rolled out of the newest member of its overhauled patrol fleet – a 2020 Chevy Tahoe that is all white in color and equipped with state-of-the-art traffic enforcement capabilities that they hope will help address what has long been the chief complaint from Lathrop residents.

According to Lathrop Police Chief Ryan Biedermann, the Tahoe – which is able to carry all of the necessary traffic investigation equipment required for a traffic officer in a single vehicle, unlike motorcycles – is modeled after the vehicles used by the California Highway Patrol.

“It’s definitely more subdued and not being a black-and-white it’s meant to blend in a little bit better,” Biedermann said. “It’s not that we’re trying to be sneaky – the California Vehicle Code has requirements that we have to meet and it’s a marked police car – but it’ll allow for the deputy assigned to it to be a little more effective on traffic details.”

Much like the CHP cars that it is modeled after the new traffic unit will be equipped with front and rear “rolling radar” – meaning that it can clock the speed of cars while it’s being driven and does not require the use of a mobile gun that takes the driver’s hands off of the wheel and must be used from a parked position.

Biedermann hasn’t been shy about sharing that the complaint that he receives from the public more than any other is that speeding and unsafe driving are a problem and he hopes that the use of the new vehicle will send a message to the public that police are out and looking for those who are not obeying the posted speed limit or respecting the controlled intersections through town.

The fact that it doesn’t take another vehicle out of the motor pool and offers flexibility for traffic enforcement, he said, make it a wonderful addition.

“It’s going to be a vehicle that’s completely dedicated to that purpose – we can use it for other things, but it’s specifically outfitted for traffic enforcement,” Biedermann said. “We don’t have that kind of flexibility with motorcycles, and with the rolling radar it’s going to be able to get the speed of vehicles in front of it and vehicles that are coming up from behind it.

“Nobody likes getting the traffic ticket, but this sends a message that we’re trying to prevent the accidents and the fatalities that come with unsafe driving.”

With the addition of the traffic-specific Tahoe the Lathrop Police Department and now only waiting for one more Chevy Tahoe to be delivered from the Hollister-based company that is outfitting it before the new fleet is completely deployed.

Biedermann said the department is still working on how to outfit the new Tesla Model 3 that they’ve received for law enforcement use – a project that is proving to be more challenging than expected because it’s a vehicle that wasn’t designed for law enforcement use.

Finding where to cut into the vehicle to mount the necessary equipment without voiding the warranty and finding equipment that will fit a Tesla Model 3 has been, he said, quite labor-intensive.

“The thing about a Tahoe is that it’s widely used by police so I can just order up a push bar for a Tahoe and it’s going to fit – that’s the not the case with a Tesla, especially a new one,” Biedermann said. “You see with some of the used Teslas that are nearing the end of their warranty, agencies are able to do some pretty cool things with them because they’re not worried about that.

“The same place in Hollister that has been outfitting out Tahoes is trying to come up with something. We’re excited about the new fleet and the capabilities that we will have.”

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.