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Forest Park police car's design praised

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

The Forest Park Police Department won first place in a patrol car design contest with a new, burgundy-and-gold Dodge Charger.

LAW and ORDER magazine put the department's car design at the top of its class in the 2008 contest.

According to Diane Ritchey, editorial director, law enforcement professionals were judging the cars based on teir overall look, as well as the ease of identification, which is a significant aid to safety, particularly when an officer is speeding to a scene.

"While the appearance of police vehicles takes into consideration public perception and aesthetics, above all, it is about safety and identification," Ritchey said.

The judges, who picked the contest winner, were a deputy chief from Markham, Ill., population 17,000, an executive director of the Southwest Conference of Mayors, and a deputy sheriff from Clinton County, Indiana.

The judges said the Forest Park patrol car's "design flows well," and they praised the color combo.

"The vehicle incorporates the local high school colors of burgundy and gold, which adds a lot to the community feel," they said.

The official description of the design, in the entry, notes that the department wanted a "fresh look," that incorporated representations of professionalism, integrity, honesty and a vision for the future.

The magazine noted that the look of police cars is changing with more departments giving up Ford Crown Victorias for Dodge Chargers -- for the "modern muscle car" look.

"Color schemes, as well as makes and models of police vehicles, are changing to reflect the future of law enforcement," Ritchey said. "The traditional black-and-white color scheme is being replaced with solid, bolder, brighter colors."