Birmingham Police Department purchases smart car

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - When you see lights and sirens on Birmingham streets, they are usually attached to a Crown Victoria Police Car. Now, that will not always be the case.  The department recently added four new Smart Cars to its fleet. The cars, small in size are known for their fuel efficiency.

"We use those style vehicles in more dense areas such as shopping malls, business centers and downtown," Deputy Chief Ray Tubbs said Friday morning, standing next to one of the tiny vehicles.  "It can do everything our other ones can do except take a prisoner to jail."
The new cars replace the old three wheeled Cushmans the department used to write tickets and enforce parking mainly in the downtown area.  For 15 years, veteran officer Cindy Head knew firsthand what it was like to drive one.

"The Cushman didn't have air conditioning. And the heat, you were only able to get it from the engine which you sat on," Head said while sitting inside her new car.  "So driving this vehicle from a Cushman is like driving a Bentley.  It's awesome.  They are a smooth ride, you have heat and air.  These vehicles to me they're good for purpose it will serve in downtown area. They're awesome."
Officers say the best part about the cars is the price.  The Smart Cars cost about $14,000 a piece while replacing the Cushman costs around $30,000.  With the ability to go up to 90 miles an hour, the cars are certainly turning a lot of heads.

For officers like Cindy head, they are a morale booster.  "I actually can retire next September, "she says with a smile.  "But since I got this vehicle, who knows, I may stay around a little longer."

Police officials say they hope to get more Smart Cars in the future.  They are in the process of replacing about 145 regular size marked cars.