Police departments are trying all kinds of new ways to connect with their communities and build trust. A Seattle officer found that a great way to do that is to roll out something his department hasn't used in decades.
“I don’t get this kind of attention when I’m in my Crown Victoria,” said SPD Officer Jim Ritter, while cruising through Pioneer Square in a 1970 Plymouth Satellite. Onlookers snapped photos as he drove past in the vintage police car.
Ritter runs the Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, which restores and maintains a collection of more than two dozen vintage police vehicles.
“They are a real community policing tool, and I would not have realized that until I started taking our Satellite out in downtown Seattle and seeing all the people that were drawn to this car,” Ritter said.
Sometimes, when the weather is nice, Ritter will take the Satellite for a spin around town, and just chat with people who are curious about the relic.
Photos: Vintage cop cars
Vintage cop cars help police connect with community
The police museum does much of the restoration in a large garage in Ellensburg, where volunteers gather to work on the fleet.
“One of the reasons it's in Ellensburg is the climate is dry, and it's much more affordable to be having large buildings than it would be in downtown Seattle,” Ritter said.
Many of the volunteers are current or former law enforcement officers, who love reconnecting with police history.
“It’s amazing these things become a part of you. You drive one eight hours, 10 hours, 12 hours a day, and you kind of depend on that car,” said Marlin Workman, a 38-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol.