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Promo power: Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office first to add electric vehicle to fleet

The new Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office Tesla was debuted publicly at the Evansville Police Foundation Public Safety Car Show April 27.
The new Vanderburgh County Sheriff's Office Tesla was debuted publicly at the Evansville Police Foundation Public Safety Car Show April 27.

All-wheel drive 2016 Tesla Model S 75D will be used for promotion and recruitment; purchased for $26,000; sponsors offset $14,000 with remainder funded through commissary sales

VCSO Tesla, rear view
VCSO Tesla, rear view

The Vanderburgh County Sheriff’s Office has for the first time added a fully electric vehicle to their fleet. It is a Tesla model with more than 500 horsepower.

However, it will mostly be pursuing recruits, not suspects.

This past weekend, Sheriff Noah Robins said it was used at three events — Saturday fundraisers Over the Edge and Evansville Police Department Foundation car show.

On Sunday they took the car to the Challenger League baseball game for youth with disabilities.

Robinson said the reaction was favorable. “A lot of the kids recognized it, it seemed like a lot of the younger crowd knew what it was, and wanted to get their picture taken … it was pretty neat.”

They were able to procure, and outfit this 2016 Tesla Model S 75D with the help of sponsors.

Robinson said the car cost $26,000. $14,000 was offset by sponsors. The rest was paid through commissary sales in the jail.

The car was unveiled at a Friday afternoon news conference. Robinson said while capable of patrol work, the car will be more of a recruiting tool and for creating “buzz.”

“It will primarily be used for car shows, public outreach, school, visiting schools, parades, all manner of public engagement,” Robinson said. “And as you can imagine, the sheriff's office makes a ton of public appearances nearly every day. And so this is a real conversation starter, for a very minimal investment.”

He added that they’re likely the first sheriff’s office in Indiana to use a fully electric vehicle.

He said the Porter County Sheriff’s Office has been using hybrid gas-electric patrol vehicles since 2020.

When the purchase was announced on social media it drew comments , and arguments online.

“I fully expected that,” Robinson said. “For some reason, I don't know why electric cars have become so political. And people get worked up about it.”

Some comments were about the cost to taxpayers, and some were about effectiveness of electric vehicles. He tries not to let negative comments bother him.

“I think it's a great idea. Our sponsors clearly thought that it was a great idea. And time will tell if the public thinks it's a great idea. But I can tell you right now, from driving this thing around, we've gotten a lot of looks. And I've already spoken to kids who walk up and ask about it.”

While an older model Tesla, Robinson said the battery has a lot of life remaining.

“This car can sit there and not burn any gas,” Robinson said. “But that did run the air conditioner and the lights with very little loss of battery life. So that's a real game changer for us.”

Robinson said there are no major plans to electrify the fleet, but they will treat this car as a test case and go from there.

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