Smart Car to patrol Columbia parks - Republic-Times | News

Smart Car to patrol Columbia parks

By on August 1, 2018 at 3:49 pm

The Columbia Police Department recently purchased a 2015 Smart Car to police the parks and walking trails in the city and help with community relations. (Kermit Constantine photo)

There was a tiny new addition to the Columbia Police Department patrol fleet last week. 

This new vehicle looked like the other cars on the parking lot, with black-and-white coloring and the department’s logo on the side. Soon, it would have a flashing light bar, too. 

But this car is substantially smaller than its fellow police vehicles because it is a Smart Car. 

The department acquired the 2015 vehicle to patrol the parks and walking trails in the city.

Columbia Police Chief Jerry Paul got the idea for a Smart Car for this purpose when he saw New York City had recently bought several Smart Cars to help with their police force.

“I thought, ‘you know, that’s perfect. That’s just a wonderful way to patrol the parks,’” he said. 

Paul said the department once had a part-time officer to patrol the parks on an all terrain vehicle before there were any walking trails. 

Paul wanted to reinstitute that position, so he researched buying an ATV but decided to go with the Smart Car for numerous reasons. 

For one, the car provides more protection from the elements for the officer than an ATV. 

It will also be able to drive on roads around the city, which an ATV could not do without proper paperwork from the state. Paul said that paperwork was too difficult to obtain when compared with the ease of buying this car.

It is also small enough to drive on walking trails without taking up the whole pathway. 

Finally, it was cheaper than the ATV, as the used Smart Car with under 17,000 miles cost approximately $5,600. Paul budgeted about $12,000 for the vehicle. 

The CPD bought the car from Bobby Brooks, owner of Brooks Motor Company, who sold it to them at cost. The detailing was done by Quality Collision & Towing. 

Paul originally saw a need for a vehicle like the Smart Car because the city is building a new trail in the coming months and it, like other trails, has isolated areas.

He has also heard concerns from residents who live near the new GM&O Heritage Trail about how the area will be policed.

“This car was kind of the thought on how we address that,” Paul said. 

In addition to patrolling the parks and walking trails, the car will serve as a community relations tool. 

“We’re not going to be out and be like ‘hey let’s do a traffic stop or a felony stop in the Smart Car,’” Paul said. “That’s not the purpose. It’s more just to be out, be accessible and talk to people.”

Paul said he envisions the officer driving the Smart Car, Andrew Krump, will engage in conversation with people he meets in the park and on the walking trails. 

Krump was hired in May to patrol the parks part-time. When he is not working, a normal police car will periodically drive by the parks. 

Krump has already received some training but is still in the process of completing it. He has progressed enough to do the job and more. 

“He is a certified police officer, so he certainly can arrest people if he wanted to,” Paul noted. “There’s no reason he couldn’t detain you, put you in handcuffs and put you in the front seat if he chose to do so.”

Typical protocol will be for Krump to call for backup if he makes an arrest to transport the suspect. 

Krump’s primary focus, however, will be on patrolling the parks and trails and talking to citizens. He will also play a key role in the department’s upcoming Summer Challenge through Facebook. 

For this event, people must like and follow the CPD’s Facebook page. 

Then, on certain days, the department will post a fact about a park or trail and a picture. Contestants will then use that information to decipher where Krump is and when he will be there.

Children will then go to Krump and recite the safety phrase of the day, which will also be on Facebook. 

If they do, they will get prizes like a “Back the Blue” bracelet, water bottles with the CPD logo, McDonald’s coupons and workbooks with information about what police officers do. 

If the children also take a selfie with Krump and/or the car while wearing their bracelet, their parents can post it to Facebook from 5-8 p.m. on that day’s challenge post. 

The department will then randomly select a grand prize winner from those entries to get a gift card to a local restaurant. 

The department currently has five such challenges planned. 

For more information on the contest, visit the department’s Facebook page. 

Given its dual uses, Paul said he thinks the Smart Car will benefit Columbia residents in multiple ways.

“I think we’re going to have access to a lot of those areas in the parks and the trails,” he said. 

“I think the citizens are going to feel safer and feel the presence in those more isolated areas. I think this will be great for events, too, like parades or Songs4Soldiers. It will also be great for the kids.”

James Moss