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Richmond Police Fight Climate Crisis With an All-Electric Tesla Cruiser


Published August 3, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

Tesla police cruiser - SASHA GOLDSTEIN ©️ SEVEN DAYS
  • Sasha Goldstein ©️ Seven Days
  • Tesla police cruiser

Cops in Richmond aren't driving Ford Crown Vics anymore.

The small-town police department added a Tesla Model 3 to its fleet last year in an effort to cut gas consumption and costs — and, potentially, recruit new officers. 

"There's a good number of people in Richmond that are really forward-thinking about climate and climate change and becoming as net-zero as possible," said town manager Josh Arneson. "So there was a large number of people that were really excited about the possibility of having such a vehicle here in Richmond for the police department."

Richmond isn't the first Vermont police force with an all-electric Tesla; the Windham County Sheriff's Office bought one in 2020. That inspired former Richmond chief Kyle Kapitanski to plug the concept in his town. In a March 2021 memo to the town manager and the selectboard, Kapitanski outlined all the potential benefits.

"Last, but not least, the Tesla is just a pretty cool car all the way around," he wrote. "My belief is that some officers will be attracted to Richmond PD because we are willing to try out cutting edge technology and equipment."

The recruitment bit hasn't worked just yet. In fact, Kapitanski himself left the department last month to join the force in Shelburne, and one other position in the five-member Richmond PD is open.

Officers in Richmond take their cruisers home with them, and the Tesla was Kapitanski's car. But it's a tight fit for the interim chief, so it's not currently getting much use, according to Arneson.

Still, Arneson said, the electric car has gotten good reviews. It cost more up front — about $57,000, compared to $45,000 for a more traditional police vehicle, a Dodge Durango Pursuit SUV. The town is approaching a year of Tesla ownership, at which point it will tally up cost savings on gas and maintenance.

"From what I heard from our outgoing chief, it was fine in the winter and handled really well," Arneson said. "It did well on all the terrain that he needed to take it on."

Any plans for another electric addition to the fleet?

"I think we kind of need to gather some more of that feedback before we decide to make the purchase again," Arneson said. 

The original print version of this article was headlined "Carbon-Conscious Cops"