GATES MILLS, Ohio — For Gates Mills police, community is "key" to the success of the department.
"We have a great working relationship with our residents. We do a lot of community service. It's our focus, down here," said Police Chief Gregg Minichello.
A relationship, open to ideas, as evident when a resident brought up the idea of electric vehicles with Chief Minichello.
"Were we ever going to look into possibly transitioning into a tesla or a electric vehicle? I said we had not gotten that far, it may be something on the horizon, but we are not there yet." In fact, the Chief had been exploring electric options as the replacement for one cruiser, a few years away from removed from the fleet.
He knew electric would be well-received in the community.
"There is a lot of green space and nature lovers. You know, no emissions with this car," Minichello said.
But the department didn't have to wait. The same forward-thinking resident came back to the department with an offer.
"It just got to the point that he really wanted to do something. We talked about it and he said that he was interested in donating this particular vehicle to the department."
The vehicle: a "gently used" 2019 Tesla Model S, with roughly 7,000 miles on the odometer.
"It was kind of intimidating because it is an expensive car," Minichello confessed.
The sticker price on a new Model S is roughly $80,000. The few departments nationwide with Tesla's have either the Tesla 3 or Tesla Y, which are less expensive and more adaptable to law enforcement work.
But the newest car in the Gates Mills fleet has many positives.
"I did my research. I talked to other departments who fitted the Tesla to be a police car. I mean the most important thing for me is safety, is it practical down here, and it is. All wheel drive vehicle, its safe. There are 9 cameras on there for office safety. It handles well," Minichello said.
Some of the features of the Model S will be deactived for police work, including the self-driving feature. They are working with a Lyndhurst Tesla dealership to work on the vehicle's transition to police work.
The donor, who asked to remain anonymous, is footing the bill for the retrofitting and also an electric charge station.
"Lights in the windows. Glass top roof, so we can't put them on the roof. Put them on the back window and on the side of the car. It will be outfitted as much as we can," said Minichello.
As for projected savings with an electric car, the Chief says it's likely, but too early to tell.
But the relationship between police and the community it serves, is priceless.
"This is just something he wanted to do. It's just real enjoyable to have people like that in your community, I can't stress that enough."
The community will get its first look at the Tesla Police car during Sunday's 4th of July parade in Gates Mills.
It looks the part, but is still not fully outfitted yet. However, the new cruiser should be on the road later this summer.
Editor's Note: The below video is from a previously published story