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Ranjani Groth/UNT Capt. Jeremy Polk and Sgt. Kevin Crawford of the University of North Texas Police Department stand with two of the department’s new hybrid vehicles. The department will now add six hybrid vehicles to its fleet.

Police officers at the University of North Texas now have six hybrid patrol vehicles in their fleet after receiving Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles, according to a news release.

UNT purchased the five marked and one unmarked Ford trucks in early 2019 to replace older squad cars, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed back production.

“We knew they were in development for a couple of years and had already decided they would be perfect for our use here at UNT,” UNT Police Capt. Jeremy Polk said in the release. “UNT has a clearly established mission with ‘green’ philosophies and groups like the We Mean Green Fund. We knew we could help in that area by moving to hybrid patrol vehicles once they became available.”

Before the department acquired the hybrids, they had 32 vehicles. Polk said in an email Tuesday that some of those 32 would be replaced with the newer Ford trucks. Of the 32 vehicles, at least eight are unmarked. Polk said detectives and administration use them to attend training and meetings.

According to the release, the department will save more than $3,000 per vehicle annually and eliminate 19,539 pounds of carbon dioxide per year. For comparison, that’s about the amount of carbon dioxide used to heat the average house for four years — 18,000 kilowatt-hours of energy. Polk said in an email Tuesday Ford provided the money-saving and carbon dioxide estimates based on their research calculations.

“We plugged those estimates into an online energy converter and calculator to find easy-to-understand, relatable energy comparisons for the general public,” he said.

When idling or traveling at a slow speed, the trucks will switch to the electric mode.

“We understand that cars sitting and running at idle seems wasteful, but the electrical demands of the installed equipment always required it,” Polk said in the release. “This has always been a concern voiced to us over the years. These new vehicles can sit in a state of readiness with the engine running only for a fraction of the time the old cars require.”

Polk said it’s possible the department could transition to only using hybrid vehicles in the future, but it depends on technological advances and the department’s budget.

“We will keep vehicles in the fleet for as long as it is reasonable to do so and will be circumspect in our spending as we replace vehicles to ensure long-term budget responsibility,” he said.

ZAIRA PEREZ can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @zairalperez.