Calgary police return to 'roots' with black and white car rebranding

Insp. Ken Thrower says the force is going back to ‘the roots of Calgary’ because in the 1950s, the city’s police fleet was black and white.

New fleet follows colour scheme of 1950s cop cars in the city

Within the next year, the CPS will phase out its old white and blue cars (left) and finish rolling out its sportier, black and white cruisers (right) (CBC)

The Calgary police say there were a number of factors that led to the decision to change the colour scheme of its fleet, including a chance to rebrand and go 'retro'.

"[We're] going back to the roots of Calgary, where at one time police cars were, back in the fifties, black and white. So it was going back to that retro look," said Insp. Ken Thrower.

Within the next year, the CPS will phase out its old white and blue cars and finish rolling out its sportier, black and white cruisers.

"I heard a lot from the public and I drove around the test cars and I got the thumbs up from the old guy in the Buick and the young guy over there on the Harley looking at it going 'Hey, that's cool, I like the look of that car.'"

Thower said the change was also necessary because Ford ended the production of its Crown Victoria model that the force had been using for many years.

Cost-effective cruisers

The CPS has been gradually replacing its fleet with Dodge Enforcers and Ford Interceptors, both of which are about $3,000 to $4,000 less than the "Crown Vic's," Thower says.

It also only costs $500 to decal each black and white cruiser, whereas before, it was $1,000 per vehicle.

Thrower said that's because the old cars had more stripes to install on the outside.

' I got the thumbs up from the old guy in the Buick' — Insp. Ken Thrower says overall, Calgarians like the new black and white police vehicles.

'Paramilitary-looking tricked-out black things'

According to Coun. Gian-Carlo Carra, the new colour scheme has sparked "an interesting conversation on social media" about how the police cars had gone from "big, white, sort of non-threatening boats" to "sort-of paramilitary-looking tricked-out black things."

Though the Ward 9 councillor raised the issue at a council meeting back in July, it led to a deeper conversation on the Calgary Eyeopener on Wednesday about the problems that have been brewing, lately, between police and black communities in the United States.

There are concerns Calgary's new black police cruisers are intimidating. We hear from CPS about the design.

Here is an edited transcription of part of the interview that host David Gray did with with Insp. Ken Thrower:

Ken: "Throughout Canada and the U.S. we saw a trend going back to black and white versus blue and white."

David: "It actually started with a memo from the Department of Homeland Security saying local police forces should all go to black and white so people know there's a standard for a police car. That was an American move," said Gray.

"We know there's been problems in the U.S. particularly of late between the police forces and the communities there because of a particularly aggressive stance, some would argue. Are you worried that we'll reflect that here in Calgary now going to a black and white scheme?

Ken: "No I don't. For example, Chicago is a great city — they've got major problems. They have white cars, blue stripes. I don't think that's a factor, I really don't. It's the officers inside and how they're going to behave."

With files from the Calgary Eyeopener