Informer: Lake Charles police phasing in new vehicle color scheme

By By Andrew Perzo / American Press

Why are there black-and-white police cars in Lake Charles?

The Lake Charles Police Department has

begun a phased switch of its vehicle color scheme, said Deputy Chief

Mark Kraus. Studies

have shown that a black-and-white livery makes police cars more

recognizable and that a more visible police presence deters

crime, he said.

An article published last year in the Journal of Law Enforcement detailed the results of one such study, which compared how

quickly people categorize and detect cars of different color schemes — black and white vs. all white.

The study, using experiment participants from a white-police-car community, concluded that cars outfitted in black-and-white

livery were more readily pegged as policelike than were all-white cars.

“If police department goals include: high police car visibility for crime prevention and promoting police presence, the choice

for police cars would be the B&W’s,” the authors wrote.

The Lake Charles Police Department

looked into how much it would cost to change the color scheme and found

that buying black

vehicles and applying white vinyl covers on the doors would be $15

per police unit cheaper than the color scheme it now uses,

Kraus said.

And, he said, the officers themselves prefer the black-and-white arrangement.

The department later ordered two

vehicles, outfitted them with white doors and put them on the city

streets. Kraus said officials

have since “received very positive responses from the public.”

He said the department wanted to alter

its vehicle color scheme, in part, because officials wanted to make it

easier for residents

to differentiate Lake Charles police cars from those of other law

enforcement agencies.

“Oftentimes area law enforcement leaders get phone calls complimenting the performance of the responding police officer or

sheriff’s deputy or reporting what they see as areas where law enforcement can improve, and we can’t be readily identified

as the Lake Charles Police Department,” Kraus wrote in an email.

“Now, with this new scheme, which is traditional police colors, there is no question to the public.”

He said the department, to avoid burdening taxpayers, will gradually adopt the black-and-white livery, using it only for new

vehicles.

Center left-turn lane meant only for turns

On a road like Nelson, I’ve noticed a lot of people passing people using the center turning lane. Is that legal?

No.

The law requires drivers to obey signs and markings on streets and highways, and the center left-turn lane is marked only

for turning — a fact pointed out in big letters in the state’s driving guide and in paint on the road.

“Two-Way Left Turn Channelization

Markings are a combination of solid yellow and dashed yellow lines in

the center of a roadway.

The designated center lane may be used by vehicles traveling in

either direction. For left turn maneuvers ONLY. The lane must

NEVER be used for passing,” the booklet reads.

“Directional Markings are white arrows or words painted in the traffic lane to indicate the direction in which you must go.

You must move only in the direction indicated by the arrow.”

In the booklet, the final eight words of that last sentence are in boldface.

Online: www.expresslane.org.

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The Informer answers questions from readers each Sunday, Monday and Wednesday. It is researched and written by Andrew Perzo, an American Press staff writer. To ask a question, call 494-4098, press 5 and leave voice mail, or email informer@americanpress.com