The Westerville Division of Police has introduced the first cruisers to feature a new design and branding, including a memorial emblem to honor Anthony "Tony" Morelli and Eric Joering, who were the city's first policemen killed in the line of duty.

Morelli and Joering were shot Feb. 10, 2018, while responding to a domestic-violence emergency call.

Christa Dickey, Westerville's community-affairs director, said the Ford Interceptor police cruisers are hybrid vehicles, so they are fuel-efficient and another asset in the city's sustainability efforts.

According to information from the Ford Motor Co., police vehicles typically must keep their engines running to power lighting packages, radios, computers and other electrical equipment.

Ford's hybrid cruisers use reduced engine idling time by powering those electrical needs -- including the air-conditioning compressor -- via a lithium-ion hybrid battery.

The design means while the cruisers are idling, the gasoline engines run only intermittently to keep battery charged.

Dickey said the vehicle purchase price is $35,300, including being equipped with a prisoner-transport system and a push bumper from the dealership.

It costs the city an additional $10,000 to equip the cruiser with proper electronics equipment, lights and communications systems, and vehicle graphics costs $1,316.

The cruisers are the first to feature the new graphics package, which place emphasis on a cleaner, more traditional look and a stronger alignment with the Westerville city brand, according to Dickey.

"When I started my career in Westerville, the cruisers had a powder blue stripe on our current silver patrol car," said Charles Chandler, Westerville police chief.

"We've been very well-served by the silver-and-black police sedans and SUVs for nearly 20 years, but we are very proud of this new look."

Chandler collected and considered feedback about the current police cruiser.

Westerville officers reportedly liked the traditional black-and-white-style police cruiser, but they wanted a color unique to Westerville, Chandler said.

The traditional white doors were paired with a titanium color scheme.

City officials approved the incorporation of the memorial sticker, which is common among departments that have experienced line-of-duty deaths, according to Dickey.

"The Morelli and Joering names on the cruisers is meaningful, not only to us but to the entire Westerville community," Chandler said. "This is a real way to keep them with us in spirit."

Westerville police officials said they expect it will take about three years for the full fleet of cruisers to be replaced.

"The fleet at WPD is typically 30 vehicles, so these are the first two in the replacement schedule," Dickey said.

While the cruisers are phased in, both the new and existing vehicles will patrol Westerville streets.

For more information go to westerville.org/police.

mkuhlman@thisweeknews.com

@ThisWeekMarla