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Archive for Monday, November 18, 2002

Company wants police cars to bear ads

Douglas County sheriff wants more information about tempting offer

November 18, 2002

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Imagine getting stopped by a police car with McDonald's golden arches emblazoned across the hood or a box of detergent painted on the door right next to the department's logo.

Eudora Police Chief Bill Long scoffed at the idea.

"Who wants to drive around in a patrol car with an ad on it?" Long said.

But that's exactly what Government Acquisitions, a Charlotte, N.C. company, says many law enforcement agencies are willing to do. The company is offering to sell brand new police cars to law enforcement agencies for just $1 a vehicle.

The catch is those agencies have to allow advertising logos on the car.

"The interest has been tremendous since we started this just a few months ago," said Ken Allison, a partner in the company. Since spring, about 500 police agencies nationwide have inquired about the program, and some are following through to receive cars, he said.

Douglas County Sheriff Rick Trapp said he would like to know more about the program.

"If it's ethical and legal and saves the county money, then it's worth looking at," the sheriff said. Trapp said his office had requested more information on the program and was waiting to receive it.

"I wouldn't say we're considering it; we just need more information," he said.

Baldwin also might be interested, City Administrator Larry Paine said.

"At least its something you want to investigate," he said. "I don't want to necessarily turn a police car into something like city buses are."

This image from Government Acquisitions shows a police car with a
space on the hood for advertising. The company says about 500
police agencies have expressed interest in the program as a way to
save money on police cars. The Douglas County Sheriff's office is
seeking more information about the offer, but the Lawrence Police
Department is not interested.

This image from Government Acquisitions shows a police car with a space on the hood for advertising. The company says about 500 police agencies have expressed interest in the program as a way to save money on police cars. The Douglas County Sheriff's office is seeking more information about the offer, but the Lawrence Police Department is not interested.

Allison declined to identify cities that have signed contracts with the company. He also declined to identify any specific national corporate sponsors for the advertising.

Government Acquisitions came up with the idea in response to President George W. Bush's call for assistance to emergency service agencies in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist attacks, Allison said. The company also will provide fire trucks.

Advertising is obtained for the vehicles both from local businesses and nationwide corporate sponsors, Allison said.

"We will work with the local agencies about what ads will be on the cars and we'll solicit them," Allison said.

The company does not solicit ads that promote alcohol, tobacco, firearms or anything else that might be considered inappropriate for a law enforcement vehicle, Allison said.

Lawrence Police are not interested in the idea at the moment, Sgt. Mike Pattrick said. A decision to enter into contracts for purchase of police cars would have to involve city hall officials as well as the police department. The ethics of having ads on police cars also would have to be researched and discussed, he said.

At least two other Kansas cities have inquired about obtaining vehicles from Government Acquisitions. Abilene Police Chief Bryan Dunlap said city commissioners there would have to make a decision.

"Obviously it saves us some money, but the tradeoff is, do you want those people to keep coming back and hitting your local businesses for money?" Dunlap said.

Towanda Police Chief Tim Scott said he asked about obtaining an emergency rescue truck emblazoned with ads. He rejected the idea after learning vehicles must be returned to Government Acquisitions after three years so they can be resold.

An agency gets another vehicle through the company every three years or they go back to buying one on their own - or doing without, Scott said.

"I didn't even take this to the city council," Scott said. "I decided this was going into 'file 13.'"

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