BMW Wins LAPD Electric Car Contract, Beating Tesla


German automaker BMW has beaten California-based Tesla Motors Inc. by winning a contract to supply the Los Angeles Police Department with 100 electric cars.

BMW is leasing 100 of its i3 all-electric plug-in vehicles, which the LAPD plans to use for community outreach and other police business — but not patrols or car chases.

That will bring to almost 200 the number of electric vehicles the city is using in its various departments.

In the last year, the LAPD has been seen testing Tesla’s P85D, a variant of the Model S that has been discontinued. The Police Department was apparently looking at buying or leasing the replacement, the P90D, but decided on the BMW i3 instead.

Weak and small compared with the mighty Tesla, the BMW is also more affordable. The small German electric car costs $42,000, or well under half the Tesla’s price.

Vartan Yegiyan, who oversees the LAPD’s motor transport division, said the BMWs would be leased for $387 a month. A three-year lease for 100 cars will total about $1.4 million, including maintenance and repairs, he said.

Yegiyan said it will cost an additional $1.5 million for the infrastructure to charge the BMWs and other electric vehicles purchased in the future.

Although the Tesla is capable of massive acceleration, top speeds suitable for high-speed chases and a range of almost 300 miles, the smaller, more moderate i3 accelerates quickly, has a lower top speed and can go only 80 to 100 miles on one electric charge.

But for an additional fee, the i3 is also available with a gas-engine “extender” that increases the range to about 150 miles.

The LAPD’s i3 lease could lead to a deal for vehicles more suitable for patrol work. Police Chief Charlie Beck said the department was continuing to work with BMW, Tesla and other automakers to create a more capable electric vehicle.

“We want to go to the next step,” he said. “They will absolutely be the patrol cars of the future.”

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti hailed the move, saying, “We should be thinking green in everything we do,” and adding that the adoption of electric cars will “also save money and resources.”

Garcetti said the LAPD is leasing the vehicles as part of a three-year agreement with BMW, enabling the city “to be flexible and to change as EV technology evolves further.”

He also said the city plans to acquire 100 additional electric vehicles this fiscal year.

In making the announcement, BMW said the availability of a large network of BMW “i centers,” which can service electric vehicles, influenced the LAPD’s decision.

The fact that the LAPD uses BMW motorcycles in its fleet may also have helped seal the deal.

BMW said Greenlots, a Californiabased company that manages electric vehicle charging networks, would supply 100 Level 2 and four DC fast chargers to the LAPD.



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Long Beach Fire Department Debuts New Boat

Long Beach Fire Boat

After adding some finishing touches on Long Beach Fire Department’s Fireboat 20, it’s ready for its official debut.

Fire Chief Mike DuRee said the department has had the vessel for a couple of months, and used it in fires, such as the blaze at the old Ruby’s Diner at the end of the Seal Beach Pier.

But, there were a few minor things that needed to be tweaked.

“There was a punch list that needed to get fixed,” DuRee said. “It also gave our crew the opportunity to get familiar with it.”

The vessel, called “Protector,” has its dedication from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8, at the Port of Long Beach Joint Command and Control Center. The ceremony isn’t public, port media relations lead Lee Peterson said.

The Protector was built in Washington State, DuRee said.

“They build all boats up there, don’t they?” he said.

The boat has a laundry list of features, DuRee said, needed to battle fires these days.

“The reality is because of the types of ships we see in port, we needed it to enhance our capabilities,” DuRee said. “We have much greater issues to deal with in the port.”

The port’s biggest container ships can carry 18,000 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent unit), whereas older ones had 4,500 TEUs. DuRee said initial estimates for the Protector said it could discharge 45,000 to 50,000 gallons of water per minute, but he said it actually flows about 60,000 gallons of water per minute.

“It’s a very capable vessel,” DuRee said.

The fire department’s other boats were built in the mid-1980s, DuRee said, and flow about 10,000 gallons of water per minute.

“They’ve outlived their expectancy,” DuRee said.

DuRee said the boat is 108 feet long and designed much like a tugboat with its Voith Schneider drive system.

“It’s like an egg beater,” DuRee said. “The whole system is unique. It can stay on station and is an industry standard. It’s a lot more maneuverable and designed with a number of features combined… There are no other boats around like it.”

In the Ruby’s Diner fire, the Protector extinguished the fire within three minutes by throwing environmentally friendly Novacool foam on it with its 10 water cannons.

Other features of the Protector include a basket on the deck, allowing firefighters to be hoisted up to a fire, DuRee said. It also has two pilot areas, allowing it to maneuver into very tight quarters, as well as the latest and greatest in navigational equipment, medical station and more, he said. The boat also has CBERN (chemical, biological, explosive, radiological and nuclear) equipment, with its ability to become airtight and produce its own air, he said.

“I’m just scratching the surface of its capabilities,” DuRee said. “We’re absolutely thrilled we have this new asset in town. It’s the most comprehensive boat in the world. My crew down there is still learning… It gives us the ability to provide greater safety.”

To get the Protector and another boat next year, LBFD received about $19 million in federal grant money from the Urban Areas Security Initiative (UASI), DuRee said, and the port matched that amount. He said he was unsure of the total cost. But, Peterson said the total cost for this boat is about $25.8 million.

“We’re very thankful to the Port of Long Beach to help maintain our presence,” DuRee said. “The port made a 50-year investment.”

The UASI assists high-threat, high-density urban areas to build and sustain the capabilities to prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to and recover from acts of terrorism, according to its website.

As far as money goes, DuRee said he has six crewmembers assigned to the Protector, which is fewer than eight on a similar boat in the city of Los Angeles.

“Not only do we have a better machine, but we don’t need as many to man it,” DuRee said.

He said that helps when it comes to budget talks.

“For the day in and day out operations of the vessel, we think six people is sufficient,” DuRee said.



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LAPD Considers Trading in Crown Vics for Some $100K Teslas


We may get the hippest, cleanest fleet in the country

The Los Angeles Police Department is looking to potentially upgrade their fleet of vehicles with none other than Tesla’s all-electric luxury Model S.

The Model S may be eco-efficient, but at $100,000, it’s not much of a thrifty buy. The LAPD’s annual $30 million vehicle budget allows up to 750 new vehicles a year, and the Model S would eat up a big chunk of that. The department is currently known for their thrifty, clunky Crown Victorias, though it’s been swapping in Ford Interceptor SUVs—outfitted with special features that make it more crash-resistant—as well as sleek Dodge Chargers, and even a Lamborghini.

Don’t expect an all-Tesla fleet soon; the department is treading lightly, testing two loaner Model S models for not only transportation uses but high-speed chases. The current price is a consideration, but LAPD brass believes Tesla costs will eventually drop and electrical charging stations will become more ubiquitous. “While that’s occurring we’ll be in the space learning and contributing to the process,” LAPD Police Administrator Vartan Yegiyan told CNBC.

The department’s faith in clean vehicles extends to its testing of the all-electric BMW i3—which run about $43,000—and its purchase of nearly three dozen electric scooters and motorcycles.

A statement from Ford—the current leader in the police market, with a 61 percent share—revealed a little anxiety over large police departments embracing younger companies like Tesla: “We are a leader in law enforcement, and we intend to remain the leader.”


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Scanners Now Able to Monitor MotoTRBO Frequencies

Within days of each other, both Uniden and Whistler announced that they would both be adding DMR scanning to their lineup.

whistler-logoWhister states that they will be releasing both a mobile and portable scanner capable of monitoring MotoTRBO, Hytera XPT, and conventional DMR frequencies in late June 2016.

UnidenLogoBlueUniden on the other hand, doesn’t yet have a solid release date, though you can pre-order the upgrade. They aren’t releasing a new product, but upgrading their existing BCDx36HP to be able to scan MotoTRBO and conventional DMR frequencies.

Click the logos above or the links below for more info.


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Shuttle Tank and LAPD Pursuit Photos

SCMA member and frequent photo contributor Chester Brown (LA-203, K6CRB) took these photos of the Space Shuttle tank on it’s way to the California Science Center in Los Angeles and the termination of a pursuit in North Hollywood.

Los Angeles, CA USA 21 May 2016 Space Shuttle Tank ET-94 is moved though city steets to the California Science Center ©  Chester Brown

Los Angeles, CA USA 21 May 2016 Space Shuttle Tank ET-94 is moved though city steets to the California Science Center ©
Chester Brown

Los Angeles, CA USA 21 May 2016 Space Shuttle Tank ET-94 is moved though city steets to the California Science Center ©  Chester Brown/Alamy Live News

Los Angeles, CA USA 21 May 2016 Space Shuttle Tank ET-94 is moved though city steets to the California Science Center ©
Chester Brown/Alamy Live News

Pursuit NOHO-0079

Termination of an LAPD pursuit on North Hollywood. © Chester Brown

Pursuit NOHO-0081

Termination of an LAPD pursuit on North Hollywood. © Chester Brown

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Baker Fire Station Staffing a Public Safety Concern

ca_san_bernardino_county_engine_53-1According to Caltrans, an average of just under 40,000 vehicles passed through Baker on Interstate 15 on a daily basis in 2014. That same year, statistics showed that some 23.5 million motorists traveled to Las Vegas. The vast majority were Southern California motorists using I-15.

It’s those numbers that concern Bill Mahan, one of three captains assigned at the San Bernardino County Fire Department’s Station 53 in Baker. That’s because the station is staffed only by one captain and one firefighter per shift. Mahan is lobbying his superiors to increase staffing at the station so there would be three fire personnel per shift.

“On a shift we have one captain and usually a limited-term firefighter, who has little to no prior experience,” Mahan said. “Normally a fire engine has an engineer, the person who drives and operates the water pump. We don’t have that here. So that falls on the captain or if their firefighter is qualified then he can do it.

“Say we are on a fire call I have my firefighter man the hose line as I’m talking to dispatch on the radio, managing resources, coordinating with CHP and running the water pump and making sure we don’t run out of water. It’s not a matter of things don’t get done, it’s just that things don’t get accomplished as quickly as we would like. It’s worrisome because lives are (in the) balance oftentimes. But our department is working on getting us additional staffing.”

The small town of Baker has a population of 735 people, according to census data from 2010, but its fire station is responsible for 4,000 square miles, including the stretch of I-15 that runs north of Baker and up to stateline, Highway 127 up to the Dumont Dunes, the Mojave National Preserve and portions of Interstate 40. The Baker station responds to approximately 1,500 calls annually.

Statistics from the Barstow area California Highway Patrol support the challenges the fire station faces with only two firefighters on duty per shift.

According to CHP spokesman Ryan Camara, officers responded to 371 property damage collisions, 148 collisions with injuries and 16 fatal collisions on I-15 between Minneola Road and stateline in 2015.

So far this year, officers have responded to 101 property damage collisions, 69 injury collisions and four fatals, he said.

Camara said he couldn’t say if Station 53 responded to each of those collisions, but it’s safe to assume they handled many of them.

“We have the equivalent of a large city’s population traveling through Baker on a daily basis,” Mahan said. “Granted they are all moving, but they are people traversing through my area that may need our service at the drop of a hat. Most cities responsible for a population of that size operate with at least three fire stations, with an engine of a captain, engineer and firefighter/paramedic.

“Normally when an engine needs additional resources, help is there within 10 minutes or less. We don’t have that luxury out here in Baker.”

That’s the other issue that Station 53 faces. If additional resources are requested, Mahan estimates the response time for another engine is 45 minutes “at best.”

Continue reading

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L.A.’s Effort to Equip Officers With Body Cameras Stalls


From a Los Angeles Times article by Kate Mather and David Zahniser:

Los Angeles’ much-touted plan to equip thousands of police officers with body cameras has stalled amid controversy at City Hall over the program’s price tag and whether the Police Department got the best deal possible.

Delays have derailed Mayor Eric Garcetti’s pledge to provide nearly every officer with a camera by the end of this year, an ambitious proposal that garnered national attention and would make the LAPD the largest law enforcement agency in the country to use the devices on a widespread scale.

LAPD officials do not expect to finish outfitting 7,000 officers until the fall of 2017 at the earliest. And a new proposal, they say, could push the completion date back another year.

The head of the council’s public safety committee now wants the LAPD to start over and accept new bids from camera manufacturers.

“This is too big to get wrong,” said Councilman Mitch Englander, who told The Times he plans to introduce a formal proposal next week. “It’s more important that we get it right and not just do it quickly.”

Despite the initial fanfare, the camera plan came under scrutiny at City Hall over its costs — $57.6 million over five years — with one council member saying he was experiencing “sticker shock.” In addition, competing technology companies complained they were unfairly left out of the LAPD’s selection process, which relied in part on a separate search for body cameras for the much smaller Kern County Sheriff’s Department.

Body cameras have been hailed as a key tool for improving oversight of officers and building community trust in police. Garcetti unveiled his initiative in late 2014 following nationwide protests over the way police officers use force, particularly against African Americans.

Three of Garcetti’s appointees on the Board of Police Commissioners voiced alarm about Englander’s proposal, saying the LAPD had already followed proper contracting procedures and found the best product at a good price.

“This is not good for police transparency, accountability or keeping a commitment to our police officers and community members,” commission President Matt Johnson said.

Commissioner Steve Soboroff, a longtime advocate for the camera technology, said city lawmakers are “horribly underestimating the ramifications” of delaying the body camera initiative. Having the LAPD ask camera companies to send in new proposals could drag out the process further, resulting in years of additional challenges and procedural delays by competing firms, he said.

“This is an unequivocal disaster for public safety in Los Angeles,” Soboroff said.

Garcetti struck a more diplomatic tone, saying through a spokesman that he hoped the council would act “as quickly as possible.”

The LAPD already has about 860 cameras, purchased through private donations. Last year, the LAPD negotiated a contract with Taser International to provide thousands more as well as replacement equipment, digital storage of the recordings and thousands of Tasers.

Weeks later, the council balked at approving the $31.2-million contract with the Scottsdale firm, sending the proposal back for more deliberations amid concerns over the initiative’s overall cost. Council members voiced dismay that the initiative would require scores of LAPD officers to review camera footage, ensure officers were using the devices properly and other tasks. (The LAPD later revised its plan to include more civilian staffers.)

A new vote was never scheduled, and on Friday, council members voted to temporarily use some of the city’s camera funds for housing programs.

la-me-lapd-body-camera-contractEnglander, perhaps the biggest champion of the body camera program on the council, repeatedly argued last year that the council should push ahead with the Taser contract. But he came under fire from critics who said he should not have accepted $8,400 in campaign contributions from a dozen donors affiliated with the company.

On Friday, Englander said his decision to change course had “absolutely nothing to do” with those donations. Starting a new competitive process, he said, would allow the city to answer the complaints of rival companies who say they were excluded from the LAPD’s search.

The market, he said, has “changed dramatically” in recent years. He said he also wanted the city to analyze the effect body cameras could have on costly police-related litigation.

“We will be the biggest department in the country to deploy them, and making sure and ensuring we do that openly, transparently and correctly is important,” he said.

Council President Herb Wesson — who sets the agenda for when and how major issues are decided — said he was comfortable with Englander’s approach.

“This allows us to start anew, or fresh, if you will,” he said. “The only thing I would insist is that we try to fast-track this. Because the commitment is there to make sure we have body cameras in place.”

Wesson said through a spokeswoman that he hoped a search for a camera vendor would last three to six months. But an LAPD official said it would probably take longer, even if the effort was accelerated.

Maggie Goodrich, the LAPD’s chief information officer, said the process of seeking bids, negotiating a deal and finalizing a contract typically takes a year. The department might be able to shave one to three months off because officials already know what they’re looking for in a body camera, she said.

If the council requires new bids, Goodrich said, the complete rollout of the cameras could be delayed until the end of 2018.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said he expected officers to eventually get the body cameras. But starting the contract process over, he said, was “not ideal”

“If that’s what we need to do to get this through, then that’s what we’ll do,” he said.

The delays are reminiscent of the problems the LAPD has faced when putting cameras in the department’s patrol cars, a decades-long effort hampered in part by a lack of funding. The LAPD launched its most recent attempt to install those cameras in 2008, but is still working to complete the citywide installation.

Police Commissioner Robert Saltzman said he worries the same could happen to the body camera program if the contracting process was restarted.

“I fear a delay in implementation of the on-body cameras now will begin another troubling and unnecessary multi-year process that will be similarly embarrassing for the city,” he said. “Delaying it now will undermine its likelihood of success and would be regrettable.”

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C-17 at Burbank Airport

SCMA member and frequent photo contributor Chester Brown (LA-203, K6CRB) took these photos of U.S. Air Force C-17s at Burbank Airport. The cargo planes were in town in support of President Obama’s most recent trip to the L.A. area.

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Film shoot at Cabrillo Beach in San Pedro

SCMA member Steve Herbert (LA-187, K6CRW) went down to Cabrillo Beach for a swim when he noticed a film shoot going on. He forwarded me some photos he took of the action. He noted that they will be on location filming until the 7th of April. Thanks for sharing your photos, Steve!

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New York Times Article on LAPD Air Support

Club member Glen Rothstein (LA-145, KK6OTP) shared an article from the New York Times about the LAPD Air Support Division:

The air-support division of the Los Angeles Police Department operates out of a labyrinthine building on Ramirez Street in the city’s downtown, near the Los Angeles River. A looming mass of utilitarian architecture tucked beside the 101 Freeway, the complex appears to have no real public face; here the view from the street matters little. Instead, like much of the city around it, the air-support division makes more sense when seen from above.

On the first of several flights I would take with the division over the course of the last three years, our helicopter lifted off into the haze of a July afternoon. The true bulk of the structure below us finally revealed itself. The building’s landing deck alone seemed nearly the size of an aircraft carrier’s, and from this new, elevated perspective, the headquarters indeed resembled a landlocked warship in the heart of the city; a half-dozen other helicopters were waiting there on the tarmac. The division began with a single helicopter in 1956, and it now has 19 in all, augmented by a King Air fixed-wing plane. The aircrews operate in a state of constant readiness, with at least two helicopters in flight at any given time for 21 hours of every day. A ground crew is suited up and on call for the remaining three, between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. On weekends, considered peak hours, the number of airborne helicopters goes up to three, although in a crisis the division might send as many as four or five “ships” up at once.

The police had allowed me to fly with them so that I could see the world from their perspective. Through its aerial patrols, the division has uniquely unfettered access to a fundamentally different experience of Los Angeles, one in which the city must constantly be reinterpreted from above, in real time, with the intention of locating, tracking and interrupting criminal activity. This also means that the police are not only thinking about Los Angeles as it currently exists. Their job is to anticipate things that have yet to occur — not just where criminals are, but where and when they might arrive next. They patrol time as well as space. In this sense, although it has been in continual operation for the past 60 years, the division has much to tell us about policing the cities of the future.

Soon after we were airborne, a call came in for helicopter support, and we diverted north, flying nearly to the mountains that separate Los Angeles from the deserts beyond. A woman had reportedly barricaded herself inside a house with a loaded 9-millimeter handgun. Why she had done this was not at all clear — and it would remain unexplained to us — but the police needed to set up a perimeter. They needed someone looking down from above….

For the rest of the article, please see the New York Times article.

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