‘Wrap’ sheet: Local police find a unique way to promote their message

A special Salem police car wrap was created for a Suicide Awareness program, and an Out of the Darkness Walk at Riverfront Park.

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A special Salem police car wrap was created for a Suicide Awareness program, and an Out of the Darkness Walk at Riverfront Park.

It’s a wrap — but be aware, officers driving these particular cars still enforce traffic laws and other police duties.

Marion County Sheriff Office's Traffic Safety Team, funded from traffic citations, is responsible for the enforcement of traffic laws and conducting traffic safety education in Marion County. The team's primary goal is to reduce the number of crashes through enforcement and education.

“We don’t seem to have a problem with people who are speeding, but a lot of people are running red lights and stop signs,” says Marion County Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Jerry Wollenschlaeger.

In part, with the awareness the wraps bring, he adds, “Car crashes are way down from a year ago. We had 18 last year, and as of mid-November, we have four — zero criminal crashes.”

Currently, the six-member team drives four cars that can be wrapped and, most recently, two motorcycles wrapped in pink for breast cancer awareness.

“The two bright pink motorcycles have gotten a lot of good responses,” Wollenschlaeger says. “We try to bring breast cancer awareness to people’s attention.”

Deputy Andrew Derschon has a vested interest in driving one of the pink motorcycles. His mother died of breast cancer last year.

“People tease me out in public about riding a pink motorcycle,” Derschon says. “I just tell them I’m honored to ride it. It’s great that our administration agreed to do something like this. Breast cancer is tied to everyone.”

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This car was wrapped for Marion County Sheriff’s Office to bring awareness to the department.

Additionally, MCSO has two Dodge Challengers wrapped with mirrored black-and-white graphics to let people know “we’re out in traffic,” Wollenschlaeger says.

“One starts black at the front and works to white, the other white at the front and works to black,” he says of the cars that are driven throughout the county. “We also have a Euro car, wrapped like the police cars in England.”

The unique Battenburg United Kingdom designed Ford Mustang was done specifically to mimic designs of European police cars and the visibility and distinct look they produce, he says.

“We would like to do a wrap for child abuse or domestic violence month, and maybe Fourth of July,” Wollenschlaeger says.

With more staffing and additional funding, a full-time DUI car could be added to the high visibility vehicle roster, he adds.

On a lighter note, MCSO is also considering a car wrap for the annual Civil War between the University of Oregon and Oregon State University.

“Half beaver, half duck,” he says.

The department’s wrapped vehicles are drawing a lot of positive attention from the public, according to Wollenschlaeger.

“There are a lot of thumbs up when we drive by in the new cars,” he says.

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Local residents participate in Coffee with a Cop, a bimonthly program through Salem Police Department, at various coffee houses around Salem.

The Salem Police Department joins Marion County on wrapping cars for public awareness and support for deserving causes. Deputy Chief Steve Bellshaw got the department’s wraps going with a pink car for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October 2016.

“We weren’t sure the guys would drive a pink car, but they love the attention it gets,” Bellshaw says. “People want pictures taken with it.”

The wrapped car made national news with its debut, and was the start to other wraps for causes last year: Child Abuse Awareness in April, Veterans Awareness in May, Suicide Prevention Awareness in September, and a second run of Breast Cancer Awareness, again in October.

“The wraps are on for a month, come back off, and then the cars are wrapped again,” he says. “We have sponsors that pay for the $4,000 cost, and their names go on the wrap they sponsor.”

If additional sponsors come forward, more months will be covered, Bellshaw says.

“One business wanted to do a flag wrap in November for Veterans Day, and then changed their mind,” he says. “We’d like to do a purple car for Domestic Violence Awareness month in October. All these causes touch the work of the police department.”

Department personnel whose lives are affected by the cause of the month have their photos taken with the car, a very emotional undertaking for some, Bellshaw says.

“As I talked to these employees, they were so emotional that the police department would do something to show support for them,” he says of employees photographed with the Breast Cancer Awareness car. “It was really eye-opening.”

Wrapping cars, which must remain recognizable as police vehicles, is just one way the department reaches out to educate residents and support the community, says Angie Hedrick, management analyst for the Crime Prevention section, who also handles Salem PD’s media presence.

Follow the Salem Police Department on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for more community outreach. “Done-in-One” are short, teachable segments on YouTube, covering timely topics each week, and jumping from Twitter to Nextdoor.com are weekly traffic quizzes.

“It’s very important for us to make sure the community knows who we are as much as we want to get to know them,” she adds. “We also host an online chat once a month. It’s a great way to engage people.”

Bellshaw says seniors can volunteer for a number of programs, including putting reader boards out in neighborhoods with speeding problems, patrolling disabled parking, or checking on homes when people are on vacation.

“We train our volunteers and send them out in pairs,” he says. “If you don’t know someone you want to hang out an afternoon with and do some good, we can partner you with somebody.”

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