February 11

Tesla vehicles are increasingly being used by police departments around the world. The main reason is the significant gas savings, but one of them, Westport Police in Connecticut, also found a way to save big by using Tesla Sentry Mode on its new Model 3 electric police cruiser instead of adding cameras.

Last year, we reported on the Westport police department announcing that they bought a Tesla Model 3 that they upgraded to use as a police patrol vehicle.

They were only the latest police department to switch to the Model 3 due to the important reduction in the cost of ownership that the electric car can bring to the department.

But Westport’s announcement was especially interesting since it mentioned that they were “in direct conversations with Tesla” about using the Sentry Mode feature powered by Autopilot cameras:

Every Tesla comes straight from the factory with many features installed in the car — like its front, side, and rearview cameras — that a police department would typically need to install at extra cost. These cameras can also be used in ‘Sentry mode’ to monitor the vehicle and vicinity when the vehicle is parked. Chief Koskinas is in direct conversations with Tesla to work on potential ways to leverage the car’s existing systems to better meet the needs of a police force.

As we previously reported, Sentry Mode has helped police with video evidence to help them identify and find vandals in the past, but it would have been the first time that a police department would use Sentry Mode directly.

Now the Model 3 cruiser is going into operation in Connecticut and it is reportedly using Sentry Mode for police purpose.

The department told the local EV club:

With Tesla’s cooperation, the police are using the sentry cameras that come with the Tesla, meaning that they will be spared the approximately $3,000 expense that is normally incurred to add this to a police cruiser. And the Tesla cameras are of superior quality than what they would otherwise get.

Westport is also reportedly in talks with Tesla to potentially use the onboard computer and screen to run their police programs, but nothing has been implemented yet. They are using tablets for now.

Even with the savings from the camera installations, the Model 3’s sticker price is still a little more expensive than the Ford Explorer it is replacing.

However. they expect $13,770 in fuel savings just in the first three years with the Model 3.

At this point, there are about a dozen police departments going electric with Tesla vehicles.

Earlier this year, the Bargersville, Indiana, police department started updating its fleet to Tesla Model 3 vehicles after they realized it would be much less expensive to drive electric.

In order for Sentry Mode to work on a Tesla, you need a few accessories. We recommend Jeda’s Model 3 USB hub to be able to still use the other plugs and hide your Sentry Mode drive. For the drive, I’m now using a Samsung portable SSD, which you need to format, but it gives you a ton of capacity, and it can be easily hidden in the Jeda hub.

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