The police department that was one of the first in the nation to utilize a Tesla for law enforcement is making another big move. The Bargersville, Indiana, Police Department has upfitted one of its Tesla Model Y vehicles for a K-9 officer. Police Chief Todd Bertram told Government Fleet he believes the department may be the first in the nation to do so.
The vehicle was upfitted for K-9 Dax, the newest addition to the department. His handler, K-9 Patrolman Jefferson Lamping, will drive the Tesla Model Y during his shifts.
Unique Feature in Tesla May Lead to Cost Savings
Tesla vehicles have a unique feature that make them perfect for K-9 use: Dog mode. According to Tesla's website, it's designed to maintain a comfortable cabin temperature for animals in the vehicle. Traditional police vehicles have to idle when K-9 officers are away from the vehicle, leading to higher fuel usage and, thus, higher fuel costs. Dog mode prevents this. It's powered by the battery in the vehicle. Tesla's website does not report how much battery power Dog mode uses, but it does tell vehicle operators to make sure the vehicle battery's charge level is at least 20% in order to use it.
In addition to Dog mode, Bargersville Police had an alarm system and pager installed to alert the K-9 officer if the vehicle gets too hot. When activated, the system will automatically open the windows and turn a fan on. The department chose to purchase the ACE K9 Heat Alarm Pro to perform this function.
Tesla Fleet Continues to Grow
Bargersville Police purchased a Tesla Model 3 in 2019, then added three more Tesla 3s a couple years later. Now, the department has 10 Teslas: five Model 3s RWD standard range plus, and five Tesla Model Y AWD long-range models.
In July 2022, Government Fleet reported that the department felt the Tesla purchases were especially paying off amid the high gas prices. A Bargersville police officer reported that the Teslas cost the department $60 per month, compared to the more than $550 the internal combustion engine (ICE) vehicles on the fleet cost. In 2020, Bertram told Government Fleet that in its first year, the Tesla Model 3 saved the department $6,320 in fuel and maintenance costs compared to the gasoline-powered sedan the department traditionally purchases.