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Toronto police launch survey to help design look of new squad cars

Last Updated Apr 19, 2017 at 2:58 pm EDT

A photographer pursues a police car carrying as it arrives at a Toronto courthouse on March 15, 2016. Toronto police have launched a survey for the public to help design its new squad cars. The move comes six months after the Chief Mark Saunders halted a rollout of cruisers with a dark grey design that sparked an outcry from citizens. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young

TORONTO – Toronto police have asked for the public’s help to re-design their new squad cars, a move that comes about six months after the force faced criticism over the rollout of new dark grey cruisers.

The force has launched an online survey seeking input on everything from the base colour of their new front-line vehicles to the colour and style of the car’s markings and the font of its motto — “To serve and protect” — which is currently written in cursive.

In November, Chief Mark Saunders halted the rollout of the force’s new dark grey cars after some complained they weren’t as visible as the current police vehicles, while others said the new vehicles looked like something from the military.

The Toronto Police Services Board then asked the force to consult with the public on possible design changes.

“It certainly seems to be a topic of conversation with everybody having a different opinion and that’s the type of opinion that we want to get as part of the survey,” said police spokeswoman Meaghan Gray.

“But it’s time for a change.”

The current police car colour scheme, with a white base and blue-and-white striping and lettering, originated in the mid-1980s, she said, noting that the present version of the car’s design was decided in 2006.

“We heard the same negative feedback when we moved from a yellow car to a white car in the mid-1980s,” Gray said.

Yellow is not one of the current base colour options in the survey.

Gray said the force will be present the results of the survey at the Toronto Police Services Board meeting in May with a decision expected later for the look of more than 600 squad cars.

There will be no additional cost as the new design will only be applied to new cars that are replacing ones at the end of their life cycle, Gray said, which means it will take more than four years to change the design of the entire fleet.

The first question in the survey asks which characteristic respondents would most like the new-look cruisers to project. Answers include professionalism, visibility, community-orientation, authority, forward thinking or reassurance.

The survey contains 14 questions and asks for answers to questions about the location of the force’s logo, whether cars should keep the current “swoosh” design and the size of the words “Toronto” and “police.”

The survey can be found here.