The recently created Eanes ISD police department is considering furnishing officers with electric vehicles from the automotive company Tesla.

During a meeting Sept. 19, the EISD board of trustees postponed voting on Tesla’s proposal, which would be nine vehicles for the total cost of $376,920. The vehicles that would be provided are Tesla Model Y’s, which do not require fuel, according to district officials.

“We acknowledge that we need to clarify the position of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement and the interpretation of Texas law upon which we based our rationale for each officer having his or her own vehicle as a part of the required equipment,” Superintendent Jeff Arnett said Sept. 19. “We have a meeting with TCOLE representatives next week in which we will confirm what is essential and equitable for each of our 11 officers.”

The details

The electric vehicles sparked debate on whether the district is leaning toward the most fiscally responsible type of car and the most rational amount of vehicles for the department.

This discourse included a post on X, formerly Twitter, from Rep. Ellen Troxclair that stated, “Raise your hand if you’re tired of being gaslit by some districts claiming they don’t have enough money while they spend wildly on luxury cars.”

Other school districts and law enforcement agencies in the area, including the Lakeway Police Department, the Austin ISD police department and the Austin Police Department, use models such as a Chevrolet Tahoe or various types of Ford SUVs.

Each electric vehicle would cost the district $49,380 before a rebate that would make each vehicle cost around $41,880. The average cost to charge these vehicles is up to $640 a year, according to the United States Department of Energy’s vehicle cost calculator.

An average 2023 Chevrolet Tahoe starts at $54,000, and the average 2023 Ford SUV starts at about $30,000 per vehicle depending on the model. The average cost of gas for these SUVs is at least $2,000 a year, according to the vehicle cost calculator.

The district will meet with the TCOLE to redetermine the appropriate number of vehicles needed for the police department, Arnett said.

The background

On June 6, the board of trustees voted to form a district police department and place an armed peace officer on each campus.

The move was to align with House Bill 3 from the 88th Texas Legislature requiring armed security officers on all campuses.

Responsibilities of the department will include:
  • Emergency response to incidents on campus
  • Enforcement of district policies
  • Providing safety education and training
  • Collaboration with school officials and local law enforcement agencies
The district intends to have a fully commissioned police force in place by 2024.

What’s next?

Eanes ISD will vote on the item at a meeting that is yet to be determined.

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