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Switch to Hybrid Squad Cars Net Savings for Chippewa Falls PD

Wisconsin’s Chippewa Falls Police made the jump to hybrid patrol vehicles late last year and has seen a drastic reduction in spending on fuel. Four of the five squads predominantly driven by officers are now hybrids.

(TNS) — Chippewa Falls Police Chief Matt Kelm believes his department picked the perfect time to start purchasing hybrid squad cars.

Four of the five squads predominantly driven by patrol officers are now hybrids, and Kelm's agency has seen a sharp increase in miles per gallon, and a corresponding drop in gallons of gas used.

Kelm said he started researching hybrid squad cars in 2018. In 2020, he asked the Chippewa Falls City Council to purchase two of the vehicles, which arrived in July and August 2021.

"When I pitched the budget for 2020, I looked at all the options out there, I did my research, and (the Council) seemed all for it," he said.

Two more hybrid squads arrived this May.

"I feel we hit this perfectly," Kelm said. "We waited a couple of years to make sure the kinks were worked out of it, and we're reaping the benefits of it, with high gas prices now. And we're in a great position moving forward."
The hybrid models cost about $3,100 more than a regular squad car.

"It's not going to take long for us to recover that," Kelm said, pointing to rising gas prices.

Kelm said his officers have noticed no major differences.

"We've been in pursuits since changing over last year, and I've not heard complaints," Kelm said. "A lot of police use of squad cars is idling. So, these (hybrids) use a lot less; they are essentially off."

Kelm said they were getting roughly 9 mpg with regular squads, while the hybrids were getting 19 mpg. In January 2021, his department used 1,226 gallons of gas. By December, with two hybrids in use, it was 830 gallons of gas for the month. Kelm doesn't have 2022 data yet, but he anticipates an even sharper drop the second half of this year with all patrol squads, except the one used by the K-9 officer, now hybrids.

Because of the mileage accumulated, squad cars generally last three years.

The success with the hybrids has been noticed by other law enforcement departments, he added.

"I've had other agencies contacted us about how they are working," Kelm said. "I imagine they will be a popular model now."

Kelm added: "We're doing what we can to save money."

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