CWU Police add Tesla patrol car in push for eco-friendly, sustainable policing

CWU Police Tesla Patrol Car In Action
Image credit: Central Washington University Police Dept.

ELLENSBURG, Wash. — By adding a Tesla patrol car to its rotation, the Central Washington University (CWU) Police Department is aligning with Washington state’s push toward a more eco-friendly future.

CWU PD’s Tesla patrol car will replace a recently-retired Ford Explorer used to patrol the campus. CWU Police Chief Jason Berthon-Koch believes this decision aligns with the University’s sustainable goals while taking the first step in meeting Governor Inslee’s executive order to make the state’s pool of vehicles 100% electric by 2040.

“We’re the first higher education institution police department in the state to invest in this technology, and that shows that we are leading the way with regard to sustainability,” Berthon-Koch said.

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The fully-outfitted Tesla costs about $7,000 more than a patrol-ready, gas-powered vehicle—although Berthon-Koch expects this investment to save the CWU PD thousands of dollars down the line.

“It cost a little more up front, but over time, we will save about $18,000,” Berthon-Koch said. “When you consider the environmental benefits, we know this car is going to be a great investment for CWU.”

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This vehicle emits between one-third to one-half of the carbon discharge that a gas-powered vehicle would. This increases Central Washington University’s fleet to nine electric cars and 12 hybrid vehicles, per Sustainability Coordinator Kathleen Klaniecki.

“CWU is committed to driving down our greenhouse gas emissions, and adding more electric cars to our fleet is only going to help us reach our goals,” Klaniecki said. “This car is just one of the many steps we have taken in recent years.”

Central Washington University shifted toward sustainable vehicles long before Gov. Inslee’s order. In fact, 96% of Ellensburg’s electricity is energized by hydropower dams. CWU is simply building on a dynamic that has already been deeply ingrained in its community at large.

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