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Silver Lake police is switching its cruisers to black, but not by choice

Police cars in Silver Lake are set to become a little darker in coming years as the department moves to black liveries.

The village’s police cruiser fleet has traditionally been silver in color, but with global supply-chain problems and vehicle shortages, new cruisers are going to be black.

Police Chief Jamie Norris told council members at their Oct. 17 meeting that two new cruisers are needed, and black is the only color available.

As first reported in The Spotlight, the department has had to repair an old cruiser, installing a new engine to make the vehicle road ready after Ford canceled an order placed in January.

Now a crash has rendered another cruiser as needing replacement, Norris said.

“We had four vehicles in the fleet to begin with, when we had an accident that was not our fault. All great timing,” said Norris. “We got onto the insurance company right away as we needed a car. They sent the car for valuation and a repair estimate, and the estimate is more than the value of the car, at $23,000. The car cannot operate on the road.”

The department is now set to receive two vehicles after the council agreed to both place an order for a brand-new 2023 model to replace the repaired-but-end-of-life cruiser and buy a second-hand car to replace the written-off vehicle.

Council members approved spending up to $51,000 on the second-hand 2022 cruiser, with $23,000 to be paid from the insurance settlement, and $36,000 on an order for a new 2023 cruiser. The department has some equipment to be fitted already in its possession, other items on backorder, and expects to salvage more equipment from the wrecked cruiser.

With limited choice on the market, Norris said the cars available are black and it would cost extra to have them repainted silver.

“The car to replace the damaged vehicle is available and is sitting on the lot and ready to go,” he said. “We have the equipment for it that was going to go into the canceled 2022 cruiser, and the installer is lined up to do it.”

It is a second-hand vehicle from another law enforcement agency, said Norris.

“It is not silver. It is black,” he said. “Silver is a difficult color to navigate, and we could not find a used silver one. Black is more of a stock color and easier to find on the used market.”

He recommended switching color schemes.

“I would go ahead and make the 2023 order black, too,” Norris said. “We could have silver lettering, so it would be black and silver. I know of one agency that ended up buying different-color cars, and they spent a significant amount of money getting them all painted.”