ARVIN, Calif.- They’re the newest members of the police force, and they’re helping officers do their jobs more efficiently.  Through a grant from the San Joaquin Valley Air Quality district, the city of Arvin acquired six hybrid SUV’s to replace vehicles in the force.Arvin chose to buy the cars to help the city become more environmentally-friendly and help limit local air pollution, Chief Tommy Tunson of the Arvin police department said.

The new cars are helping the city save 150 to 200 gallons of gas every month, according to Lt. Olan Armstrong.

In addition to giving officers a renewed sense of pride, the hybrids are providing other key benefits.

Since the usual patrol speed is under 30 miles per hour, the cars typically run using only the battery, providing safety and clean air at the same time, Tunson said.

The hybrids also run more quietly than the old police cars, which helps provide the element of surprise on suspects, especially at night, Sgt. Raul Benavides added.

Although there are different pursuit policies with the SUV’s because of how they are built, they are still comparable in terms of acceleration and top speed, Tunson said.

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