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Black vehicles for North Dakota Highway Patrol could hit the road in coming weeks

The North Dakota Highway Patrol vehicle fleet will utilize black vehicles, transitioning from white ones over the next four to five years. The state agency recently received its first batch of black automobiles, which should be hitting the road in the coming weeks. (Submitted photo)

The North Dakota Highway Patrol likely will roll out its black vehicles in the coming weeks as it begins its transition from white.

The state law enforcement agency received in recent weeks a shipment of 38 black vehicles, Capt. Tom Iverson said Monday. The automobiles need to be outfitted with equipment before they can be used in patrols, but they could hit the road in two to three weeks, Iverson said.

The Highway Patrol plans to trade out its force of 175 white vehicles over the next four to five years. Col. Michael Gerhart, the superintendent of the agency, told Forum News Service black vehicles would be easier to spot than white ones during white-out conditions, which could "enhance the safety of the motoring public as well our officers."

There is no price difference for the vehicles because of their color, but the black automobiles can be resold for more money than white ones, Iverson said. Changing to black also is a nod to the original patrol vehicles.

"It is kind of going back to tradition," he said. "When the Highway Patrol first started, there were black patrol cars. ... We feel it is a positive change."

The Highway Patrol was founded in 1935 and has used various colors for vehicles over the years, including black, gray, silver, gold, maroon and brown. The white automobiles started to appear in the late 1980s, according to FNS archives.

A vehicle used by the Highway Patrol tends to cost between $28,000 and $37,000, depending on the make and model, Iverson said.

April Baumgarten

April Baumgarten joined the Grand Forks Herald May 19, 2015, and covers business and political stories. She grew up on a ranch 10 miles southeast of Belfield, where her family continues to raise registered Hereford cattle. She double majored in communications and history/political science at Jamestown (N.D.) College, now known as University of Jamestown. During her time at the college, she worked as a reporter and editor-in-chief for the university's newspaper, The Collegian. Baumgarten previously worked for The Dickinson Press as the Dickinson city government and energy reporter in 2011 before becoming the editor of the Hazen Star and Center Republican. She then returned to The Press as a news editor, where she helped lead an award-winning newsroom in recording the historical oil boom.

Have a story idea? Contact Baumgarten at 701-780-1248.

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