Photo Caption: This is the new design for the 2012 Athens Police Department cruisers.
Athens residents may have noticed a new-look Athens Police Department cruiser around town.
The department has a new design that it unveiled last week.
Athens Police Chief Tom Pyle said in an email last week that it is merely coincidence that the new design is being introduced at the same time that a new committee is holding a contest for the design of a joint city-university cruiser.
"To be clear, this is not (that) cruiser design," Pyle said. "Those (designs) have yet to be submitted or approved."
The new APD design was decided on last year by the agency, Pyle said, but they did not receive the new cruiser from 2011 until last month. The new cruiser is a 2012 Ford Interceptor utility vehicle.
The other design is a project of the Athens City-University Joint Police Services Advisory Council, which requested citizen input on the design of a new squad car that will be shared by the two police departments. The council, or JPAC, was recently formed to foster better connections between law enforcement departments in Athens. It is appointed and charged jointly by Athens Mayor Paul Wiehl and Ohio University Roderick McDavis.
The new joint cruiser will be owned by the city and university together. Citizens have been encouraged to form teams of one person from the university and one regular city resident to design the new squad car.
At-large City Council member Steve Patterson said the idea is to foster even more cooperation between the police forces, as reflected in the design contest teams.
The hope is for this new cruiser to be the lead vehicle in next fall's OU Homecoming parade, he said. Tentative scheduling is for the cruiser to be finished and delivered by September, Patterson added.
JPAC meetings are held the first Thursday of every month at 6:30 p.m., Patterson said, and those meetings are open to the public. The location of the meetings rotates between the Athens Community Center and OU Baker Center, he said.
Some issues JPAC is charged with handling include monitoring crime trends in the city and on campus; emphasizing crime prevention and personal safety; assisting the police chiefs in identifying and prioritizing community concerns; provide feedback and suggestions for community-based policing strategies; recommending programs that improve relations between OU and the broader Athens community; and identifying methods of communicating concerns to the wider community.