Seattle’s thin blue line is turning a bit green, says the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. The Seattle Police Department has been more environmentally friendly — cutting back on paper use and buying battery-operated road flares, even getting some detectives out of their Ford Crown Victorias and into hybrid vehicles. A recent acquisition: plastic hockey-puck-shaped discs that emit light visible for more than half a mile at night. The switch from road flares followed a horrific traffic accident last year, one that required several incendiary road flares to control traffic. Instead of deadling with the residue from traditional flares, Seattle police now have Powerflares, which cost about $40 each, but are considered just about indestructible and have rechargeable batteries.
Stacks of copied police reports that were once available for daily public viewing have disappeared. Now, reports are scanned into computers and saved on CD-ROMs. Perhaps the most visible effort to go green has been the hybrid vehicle program. Over the past three years, the city has acquired a dozen Toyota Prius hybrids for the Police Department, with the most recent, the 2006 models, costing about $22,430 each. Those hybrids will be joined by about a dozen others: seven Ford Escapes costing between $27,000 and $29,000 each, and five Toyota Camrys, each about $28,000.