The Cartersville Police Department found a unique way to get high school students involved in their community.
Chief Frank McCann asked Valerie Veiga’s graphic arts students at Cartersville High School to create a new design that would make the four patrol cars purchased by the department last year safer for the officers who are driving them.
“I knew the high school had a graphic arts department, and I thought it would be a good opportunity to get the high school students involved in the community at a young age,” McCann said. “I felt like we needed a new design to improve visibility for the citizens and for officer safety on our streets, roads and highways.”
The department revealed the 2019 Dodge Chargers with their reflective blue and yellow chevron design across the back at the Feb. 7 meeting of the Cartersville City Council and presented certificates to Veiga and the two students who did the majority of the designing, seniors Hattie Thompson and Colbi Ballard.
“I think the design looks great, and it improves visibility for the community and helps improve safety for our officers while enforcing laws on our streets, roads and highways,” the chief said.
Veiga, who also involved her advanced graphic arts students in the process, said it was “an honor” to work on the design with McCann.
“Since my husband is an officer under his command, it was a special privilege,” she said, noting the chief approached her about the project on Aug. 28.
At first, the graphic artists “didn’t have any specific direction” to go on the design, Veiga said, “but Chief McCann had definite specifications he wanted in some areas that directly relate to safety.”
After choosing the students to work on the project, Veiga said they began the “traditional design process.”
“We began with thumbnail drawings — small, simple design thoughts — followed by larger, more detailed drawings on a line drawing of the patrol car,” she said. “Then we moved on from there to digital concept illustrations. Chief McCann then came and reviewed some of the best designs. He and several of his staff made suggestions and design decisions at that point. We then created a final digital mock-up for his approval and sent it to the company producing the actual design for application to the patrol cars.”
“We used the contours of the car as design elements and used the color palette from the safety features throughout design,” Thompson, 17, said. “We completed the design in a way that would ensure safety but also be attractive.”
Veiga said McCann was “involved in reviewing our progress the whole time.”
“He approved the design and led me through some final adjustments, along with several on his staff, here at my desk in the fall,” she said.
The final product is a “clean and simple design” and was the “most cohesive design” that met all of the chief’s requirements, according to Veiga.
Ballard, also 17, said they had several sketches that met the design requirements, “but this was the best use of color, considering the chief’s specifications,” and it also “looked good overall.”
Veiga said the students sent the files with the finished design to New Beginning Signs and Graphics sometime in mid-October or early November, and the department received the new cruisers in December, according to McCann.
“[The officers] all think the design looks good, I think,” the chief said. “However, some think the blue and [yellow] chevrons on the rear of the vehicle are a little loud. I insisted on the chevrons on the rear of the vehicle to improve officer safety.”
McCann said budget constraints prohibit the department from having the updated design added to its older vehicles, but they plan to use the design on every new patrol vehicle purchased in the future.
Both Ballard and Thompson enjoyed working with the department on the project.
“It’s a great way for students to get involved in the community,” Ballard said. “It is great to see our design on the road and see our efforts given such public acknowledgement.”
“It was a unique opportunity to contribute to our community in a significant way,” Thompson added.