New design has Whitehall police vehicles looking 'sharp'

| Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013, 5:45 p.m.

A bold black stripe, outlined in gold, streaks across the side of the vehicle. At night, the modern, edgy design reflects for anyone to see.

“We've gotten so many comments on the car. People are saying that the cars really look nice and really sharp,” Whitehall police Deputy Chief Richard Danko said.

After nearly 30 years of a more simplified look, Whitehall police changed the design of their vehicles, Danko said. The design earned the department's two Ford Interceptor sport utility vehicles that debuted in 2012 the title of “Best SUVs” in the 2013 police-vehicle design contest by Law and Order, a magazine for police management.

The contest was judged by law-enforcement and industry professionals.

“This is phenomenal,” Chief Donald Dolfi said. “I can't say that when we did the new design that we thought it would have this kind of outcome.”

The design was prompted by the retirement of Ford Motor Co.'s Crown Victoria nearly two years ago.

The Whitehall Police Department had varying makes and styles of vehicles over the years. The Crown Vic, the cruiser of choice for police forces nationwide for many years, became a staple, Danko said.

“Fords have been so-called ‘good to us' so far,” Danko said. “We stayed with the same design and car for years.”

The car offered stability, Dolfi said. “It's like a meatloaf dinner,” he said. “When you think of a home-cooked dinner and you think of things that are always there, that are staples in your life. It was there with the Crown Vics with their entire run.”

Since there was a need to switch vehicles, Danko said, the decision was made to change looks.

The department specified to graphic designers from Ibis Tek that the hood and deck needed to be black and the police patch needed to be visible on the side panel.

“We got to launch a vehicle that still has our tradition, but when it rides down the road, maybe makes people turn their head around once or twice,” Dolfi said.

Officer input helped the chiefs select the design.

“It looks nice,” Officer Dan Bowman said. “The look's the most important part. It's the first step to the 21st century.”

Though many manufacturers design police pursuit vehicles, Whitehall leaders opted to stay with Ford, Danko said. They selected the Interceptor because of its size, comfort and ability to hold equipment.

Other South Hills police departments are changing vehicles and their designs as a result of losing the Crown Vic.

Brentwood police recently purchased two Taurus-style police Interceptors, police Chief Robert Butelli said. The midnight blue car accented with a white logo replaces a plain design that looked similar to state police cars, which Brentwood had since 2001.

Butelli wanted something distinctive: “It sets us apart from the others.”

Pleasant Hills police kept their traditional design but purchased equipment for the new Taurus-style and SUV police Interceptors. The department purchased one of each, police Chief Edward Cunningham said.

Pleasant Hills purchased one of each vehicle to determine which would work better for officers, he said.

Stephanie Hacke is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5818 or

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