Idling cop cars need to be cool on hot days: Roadshow

Q: I can’t believe some people are upset over police leaving their patrol cars idling while on a break. These cops are there to serve us when we need help. There are far more issues of far more importance. Cut the cops some slack.

Michael Devine, San Jose

A: Cops leave cars idling to allow computers to stay powered and make sure communications are not interrupted.

Q: I was surprised that the two locked police cars idling in the parking lot while the officers were having coffee at Starbucks didn’t get more of a response. I suppose their excuse of wanting to return to a cool police car, and not having to reboot their computers can be chalked up to progress in police work.

Back in the 1960s when I was an officer, there was no air conditioning in patrol cars. We didn’t even have the advantage of their “wool blend” uniforms. Our’s were 100 percent wool. We did get by without a computer in the car. Mainly, because at the time computers were the size of a refrigerator, and Steve Jobs was still in middle school. I’m not sure how we managed.

I do hope today’s police cars are still equipped with radio communication with dispatch, so calls can be received in case the computer happens to be rebooting. However, I did note another area of progress in that they were having coffee at Starbucks and not a donut shop. Maybe even a latte.

Bob Morrison, Sunnyvale

A: Yes, they have radios. Some officers also use cellphones to avoid calls being overheard by the bad guys. And the armor vests they must wear are terribly hot. But lattes are more popular than a jelly-filled doughnut.

Q: If cops were driving Teslas there would be no need to idle the car interior to stay cool to protect electronics, modestly draining the battery by about 1 mile of range per minute on a hot day. A Model 3 can easily outrun almost any car a lawbreaker would be driving.

Fred Wu, Fremont

A: But the worry is the range an electric car would have when patrolling city streets before needing to be recharged. A model a 2014 Model S 85 can go about 265 miles on a full charge. Fremont officers drive up to 100 miles per shift.

Q: It was shocking to learn police cars have to stay idling when parked even when no one is inside the car. I read a while ago Fremont is converting a used Tesla to a police cruiser. How has that worked out for them?

Carl Koo, San Jose

A: The Tesla is now being tested. We could have results by early next year.

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