In June of 2016, BMW announced it won a contract to supply the Los Angeles Police Department with 100 electric cars—a multi-million-dollar program the chief said “made sense for taxpayers and for the environment.” Hah. The LAPD has barely used them.
Both the local and LAPD leadership talked boldly in 2016 about greener practices and technologies, with Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti telling the Los Angeles Times we “should be thinking green in everything we do.” The LA Times reported that the BMW i3 fleet, made up of 100 cars on lease by LAPD, would cost about $1.4 million over three years—$387 a month per car, according to the story. An additional $1.5 million went into infrastructure investment for electric cars.
But even if the folks in LA are thinking about ways to be green, the practice part seems to be where they’re missing the point. An investigation by CBS Los Angeles found the cars, meant to be used for non-emergency purposes like outreach and police business instead of patrols or chases, haven’t really been used at all.
Records searched by CBS Los Angeles found that the LAPD’s BMWs, many of which have been in use for more than a year, had between a few hundred and a few thousand miles on them. A car that had an in-service date of May 27, 2016 only had 400 miles on it at the time of the investigation, according to the outlet:
Like this one in service since [M]ay 27, 2016, with just 400 miles on it!
That’s an average use of 6 miles a week!
CBS Los Angeles found that in addition to barely being used, some of the vehicles have been used for non-police business. An employee reportedly took one of the LAPD cars to a nail salon, and another headed out of the garage where many of the cars are sitting to get food before going straight back in.
CBS Los Angeles’ report on LAPD’s use of the vehicles mentions that the program cost $10.2 million total. We’ve asked CBS Los Angeles to clarify the makeup of that figure, since the original two cost figures reported in 2016 only equal $2.9 million. We’ll update if we hear back.
Regardless, the report reminds us all how disappointing we humans and our establishments can be, and how easily a good-looking “green” program can turn sour.
Update 2:21 p.m. CBS Los Angeles with clarification on the figure of $10.2 million, and said the LA Times figures only covered the first phase of the program—the initial 100 BMWs and one charging station. The message from the station said there are now 200 cars in the fleet, and the contract has another 100 slated for next year with planned charging stations at 26 locations.
The entire cost, according to numbers CBS Los Angeles said it got from LAPD, equaled that figure of $10.2 million.