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You never know what you might see on the busy and colorful streets of New York City. But, back in 2016, the New York City Police Department’s outrageously cute Smart cars were the latest attractions to capture the public’s attention.
These mini-patrollers made by the car brand Daimler AG were once disparaged by the tabloid newspapers as nothing but “clown cars,” according to The New York Times.
But it didn't take long before the fleet of tiny cars won the hearts of the neighborhoods they served.
NYPD Smart cars are a friendly nod to public safety
New Yorkers couldn't help but smile when they encountered one of the NYPD’s Smart cars.
According to a 2017 publication by CBS News, it was a common occurrence that passersby would ask to take a picture of themselves with the officer and, of course, the car. The police officer was usually happy to comply.
Folks can't seem to get enough of these pint-sized spectacles. For the NYPD, the cars foster a positive public attitude toward the department, who want to be viewed as helpful and friendly.
The small size of the Smart cars makes them invitingly approachable, and this is a good thing as far as the NYPD is concerned.
According to The New York Times, the attention-grabbing wheels created a buzz with bloggers and reporters after their announcement in 2015. But the commentary has shifted from skepticism and ridicule to appreciative acceptance. Public safety in the streets of the city has never been more fun.
What are the NYPD Smart cars used for?
The impossibly congested streets of New York City as well as the meandering narrow paths of Central Park can make police patrols a challenge. But the NYPD Smart cars navigate both with ease.
You won't see them pursuing bad guys at high speeds, though, as the Smart cars aren't involved in emergency calls. They function within the friendlier aspects of civil enforcement, instead. Accordingly, CBS News noted that the maximum speed the mini-cruisers are allowed to travel is 40 mph.
The Smart cars were commissioned to replace the covered three-wheeled scooters previously used to patrol. Their primary purpose is to ensure daily public safety, patrolling areas that are otherwise relatively inaccessible, and writing tickets.
What are the features of the patrol cars?
NYPD Smart cars are designed to accommodate only one officer. But unlike the once-used scooters, they offer police more comfort and a couple of new features.
The tiny vehicles are equipped with air conditioning, according to DriveMag. This feature makes summertime patrolling much more enjoyable for the officers.
The Smart cars also included the standard equipment you would expect to see in a law enforcement vehicle. A police radio and the requisite blue revolving roof light feature, as well as the NYPD’s characteristic blue and white bodywork.
The agile minicars keep the officers safe, too, as they are equipped with airbags.
New York City's cool little police cars are the perfect example of why bigger isn't always better. For tourists and the city's communities, they are an interesting and welcome addition to the law enforcement scene.
The NYPD's eco-friendly Smart cars seem to fit in well with the one-of-a-kind, quirky character the city is known for.
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