Police Oak Bay
(Photo by Sheenagh Morrison/Facebook)

Oak Bay Police are going green as they hope to purchase their first electric vehicle to replace a marked police car.

In an interview with Victoria Buzz, Chief Ray Bernoties said the move is coming as part of the force’s 2021 budget, which received widespread support from both the Police Board and Council.

He says the plan is to purchase the first vehicle in 2021. From there, any time a service vehicle is due for retirement, it will be replaced by an EV.

“The make and model may change over time as the industry is evolving rapidly but we don’t want to do nothing while we wait for perfect,” Bernoties told Victoria Buzz.

He says that police vehicles also have a number of specialized requirements that will need to be met by any potential make or model.

Those requirements include electrical systems to support terminals in the console area, space for a protective barrier between the front and rear seats, and areas for gun racks.

They also have to consider space for larger officers, particularly when they are kitted out in full gear like a vest and gun belt, and how that might affect comfort and sightlines.

“I don’t see it impeding us from getting one,” said Bernoties. “We’re focused on not letting these challenges stop us from doing what we believe is the right thing.”

Oak Bay PD already has an EV for administrative purposes, but Bernoties says it’s important to adapt to a climate-friendly attitude and move towards a fully electric fleet in the future.

Bernoties says the majority of Oak Bay’s police vehicles are Ford Explorer SUVs, but he is hoping that innovations in the automotive industry will result in EVs of that size.

“From our research, it looks like they’re moving in that direction,” he said.

“But really, going in to get this first one is going to be a great test for us. We know we’re going to get great use out of it regardless.”

Currently, Oak Bay PD only has one dedicated EV charger, which powers their administrative vehicle, but Bernoties says that further chargers shouldn’t be needed immediately.

“Certainly, as we move into an entire fleet, we would need to look at a fast charge ability,” he said.

“I don’t think that’s going to be prohibitive at all. It’s just a matter of budgeting for it, planning for it.”

He added that he doesn’t anticipate large fuel savings from the purchase, given the relatively small operating area of the force.

Ultimately though, the dollar value is less of a concern for Bernoties.

“We put such low kilometres on our vehicles, given our small geographic area,” he said.

“It’s more just trying to play a leadership role on this very important issue. Globally, and also in the District of Oak Bay.”

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