Sgt. Jake Kissel (left), Mayor John Ernst, Police Chief Gary Yandura and Officer Carlos Nino with Brookhaven's 2015 Tesla Model S, which will undergo performance tests at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center on Tuesday.
Photo: Brookhaven Police Department
Photo: Brookhaven Police Department

Brookhaven police’s $45K Tesla to hit the track for testing

Brookhaven has outfitted its new Tesla with all the gear and gadgets it would need to operate as a fully functional police cruiser. Now, it’s time to put it to the test.

The previously owned 2015 Tesla Model S, which the police department bought for $45,000, is set to hit the track for the first time Tuesday morning at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, Brookhaven spokesman Burke Brennan said.

Now that the car has been outfitted for police use, the facility will test whether the luxury five-door is viable as a patrol car. That means putting it through the rigors any other police car would go through: a precision cone course, figure-eight exercises, breaking and steering, said John Hutcheson, a spokesman for the GPSTC.

» READ MORE: Brookhaven police use confiscated funds to buy Tesla for $45K

“It’s something that we've never done with an all-electric vehicle,” he said, adding that the GPSTC is “eager” to watch the Tesla accelerate down the high-speed track and see how the it performs. 

The Teslas are renowned for speed, with most models capable of going from 0 to 60 mph in less than 5 seconds.

Hutcheson said the testing should only take one day. He clarified that the GPSTC is not a regulatory agency and only facilitates training and testing for law enforcement.

The department would use it to respond to routine calls and do day-to-day patrols.

If the Tesla doesn’t get the all-clear, the department could still use it for educational purposes.

“Having it be a first-responder vehicle is a question mark,” Brennan said.

When Brookhaven bought the Tesla using confiscated funds, it had about 22,000 miles on it.

Brookhaven police use confiscated funds to buy a Tesla for $45K. The police department purchased a previously owned 2015 Tesla Model S. The department is putting the Tesla “through rigorous field testing to see if it would make a better option to the police patrol cars now in use.” Tesla announced that it produced 25,418 electric cars in this year’s first quarter. Brookhaven is looking into the possibility of having an all-electric fleet of police cruisers.

The police department has spent the last several months outfitting it with everything it would need to fit in with the rest of the cruisers. Some of that was difficult because Teslas are fully electric and designed differently than standard police car models, like a Ford Crown Victoria or Chevrolet Suburban, Brennan said.

If its transformation is successful, the Tesla could set the groundwork for Brookhaven — or any other agency in the state — to implement an all-electric fleet of police cruisers.

“We are always looking for ways to reduce our impact on the environment, improve our air quality and conserve resources for future generations,” Mayor John Ernst said in a statement in March, when the Tesla purchase was announced. News of the buy was met with online skepticism by some metro Atlanta residents who questioned why a police department spent tens of thousands of dollars on a luxury car.

Brennan said the city has not heard of any other police department on the East Coast that is testing an electric vehicle for use as a patrol vehicle. Police departments in Los Angeles, Denver and Fremont, California have added Teslas to their fleets, according to Electrek. Tesla’s main factory is located in Fremont.

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