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Get ready for rumbling cop cars

SANTA FE, N.M. — Thumping bass music is so ubiquitous now that even the cops are getting into it – sort of.

New cruisers ordered by the Santa Fe Police Department can emit a low-frequency tone along with the cruiser’s typical lights and sirens, department spokeswoman Celina Westervelt said Thursday.

The tone is designed to be felt – like a deep blast from a boom box – rather than heard, and is powerful enough to vibrate the windows of vehicles which are within a 10-foot radius of the cruiser.

The subwoofer comparison to these “rumble sirens” isn’t too far off, she said. “That’s essentially what it sounds like,” she said. “A really low vibration just like that.”

The point of this optional siren is to get the attention of drivers in the immediate area around the cruiser, Westervelt said. They’re not powerful enough to be heard bumping inside of homes.

The sirens are outfitted on 32 new vehicles, with a total cost of $1.3 million, which the police department is cycling into its fleet. The department has 25 of the vehicles already – 18 Ford SUVs, two Dodge Chargers, and five Ford Tauruses. The new fleet will also include Kawasaki motorcycles.

Westervelt said the department chose to buy the SUVs because they have space for gear such as tactical equipment and bicycles, they have all-wheel drive and they can be useful in inclement weather such as snowstorms.

The new vehicles, as was announced several months ago, will have a different look. The department is phasing out the mostly-white with red-and-blue color scheme on its current vehicles in favor of traditional cop-car white and black.

Phasing out all of the older vehicles will take about five years.

Westervelt said the new color scheme has been shown by studies to help reduce crime. She said children in U.S. culture are taught that police vehicles are black and white, and so there’s a strong association with law enforcement when people see those colors.

People are more likely to note black-and-white cruisers they see on the street, which creates the impression that there are more officers around.

“(They think,) ‘Oh gosh, police are everywhere,'” Westervelt said.

The spokeswoman also said people are more likely to report crimes when they see the traditional police cars.

The net effect, hopefully, is that the new color schemes will help reduce crime, Westerfelt said.


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