The Tesla Model Y is the first traffic Tesla to join the fleet of the Mukilteo Police Department. Three other Teslas are used in other functions. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

The Tesla Model Y is the first traffic Tesla to join the fleet of the Mukilteo Police Department. Three other Teslas are used in other functions. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)

Mukilteo police’s new tricked out Tesla is a real traffic stopper

The black patrol car looks like just another Tesla, until the lights and sirens come on.

MUKILTEO — There are lots of Teslas in Mukilteo, but this one has lights and sirens.

People often don’t realize that, though, until it’s in their rearview mirror.

That’s the point.

What’s up with that?

The police department’s new black Tesla Model Y blends in with traffic.

“That’s the reason the guy flew by me as I was coming here,” traffic officer Al Gonzalez said. The guy he snagged was going 63 in a 40 mph zone on the misnamed Mukilteo Speedway.

I met up with Gonzalez at Lighthouse Park. It was a media stop, thankfully, not a traffic stop. This squad car has plenty more of those in its future.

“Police” is in subdued lettering on the sides. The top is slick. The lightbars are inside and inconspicuous.

“People have their guard down, because they don’t see me,” Gonzalez said. “People on the phone, following too close, even like today the speeder blowing by.”

Gonzalez is the man in the Tesla. The city’s other traffic officer rides a motorcycle.

The traffic Tesla hit the streets of Mukilteo near the end of July.

“I usually get a double-take when people see it,” Gonzalez said. “I had one gentleman, he was afraid to stop. He said he was a little apprehensive. He didn’t know police had Teslas. He was shocked.”

A few violators have told him, “Nice ride.”

The car draws its critics.

“They’ll be like, ‘Oh, I didn’t know Mukilteo had the budget for a Tesla,’” he said.

Actually, it’s the police department’s fourth Tesla as part of its “green fleet” initiative. Three other Teslas, two Model Ys and a Model 3, are for detectives, unmarked and of undisclosed colors.

This is the first Tesla pulling traffic duty. Total cost with the cage, lights and other crime-fighting gizmos was about $75,000.

“That’s about the same cost that we have budgeted for the patrol SUVs to get them all outfitted,” Police Chief Cheol Kang said.

It is the same Tesla model in a pilot patrol test by the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office in 2021. The car has been reassigned as an investigations vehicle.

“There are currently not enough rapid charging stations throughout the county for this vehicle to be used on patrol,” sheriff spokesperson Courtney O’Keefe said in an email.

So far, in the bedroom community of Mukilteo, the police charging stations provide enough juice.

He’s the main man in the traffic Tesla: Mukilteo Patrol officer Al Gonzalez (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

He’s the main man in the traffic Tesla: Mukilteo Patrol officer Al Gonzalez (Andrea Brown / The Herald)

Mukilteo’s new Tesla replaced a 2013 Ford Interceptor sedan (sequel to the Crown Vic) that the department donated to Sno-Isle Tech Skills Center for teen auto students.

“They got that thing fixed up, cleaned up and functional,” Kang said. “They were able to give it a little bit of life back.”

The Tesla came with a mind of its own.

“The Tesla is basically a giant computer that they built a car around,” Kang said.

Teslas are equipped with basic autopilot.

“Our staff have been directed that we will NOT use that function,” he said.

According to data.wa.gov, there are about 5,000 Tesla models registered in Snohomish County.

“A few years ago it might have stood out, but there are so many on the road now,” Kang said. “Hopefully word spreads and it gets people to change their behavior when driving. It’s an amazing force multiplier, because it makes you think twice whenever you see a Tesla coming towards you.”

The Tesla is scoring high marks for performance. Unlike its gassy cousins, there’s no idling. The tireless workhorse pulls a 10-hour shift with juice to spare and gets charged overnight.

Talk about instant torque.

“It goes 0-to-60 miles an hour in 3½ to 4 seconds,” Gonzalez said. “It handles really well around curves.”

The Tesla stops traffic when it isn’t doing the stopping.

The car was a whale of an attraction parked at Lighthouse Park.

“Can I take a picture?” asked Bob Wang, a visitor from New York. He wanted to show his police friend back home.

Mukilteo resident Phil Salditt contemplated committing a crime.

“What can I do to get arrested? I’ve always wanted to ride in a Tesla,” he said.

Andrea Brown: 425-339-3443; abrown@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @reporterbrown.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

Snohomish residents Barbara Bailey, right, and Beth Jarvis sit on a gate atop a levee on Bailey’s property on Monday, May 13, 2024, at Bailey Farm in Snohomish, Washington. Bailey is concerned the expansion of nearby Harvey Field Airport will lead to levee failures during future flood events due to a reduction of space for floodwater to safely go. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Harvey Field seeks to reroute runway in floodplain, faces new pushback

Snohomish farmers and neighbors worry the project will be disruptive and worsen flooding. Ownership advised people to “read the science.”

IAM District 751 machinists join the picket line to support Boeing firefighters during their lockout from the company on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Amid lockout, Boeing, union firefighters return to bargaining table

The firefighters and the planemaker held limited negotiations this week: They plan to meet again Monday, but a lockout continues.

N3054V accident site. (Alaska State Trooper Photo)
Lake Stevens pilot, who lived ‘Alaska dream,’ died in Fairbanks crash

Former Snohomish County lawyer Harry “Ray” Secoy III, 63, worked as a DC-4 pilot in Alaska in the last years of his life.

Air and ground search and rescue teams found Jerry Riedinger’s plane near Humpback Mountain on Monday. (WSDOT photo)
Remains of pilot recovered near Snoqualmie Pass after Arlington flight

Jerry Riedinger never made it to Ephrata after departing the Arlington airport Sunday. Investigators have not determined the cause of the crash.

Federal prosecutors say the two men shown here outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, are Tucker Weston, left, and Jesse Watson. (U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia)
Lynnwood roommates sentenced for roles in Jan. 6 riot

Tucker Weston was given two years in prison Thursday. Jesse Watson received three years of probation in August 2023.

Lynnwood
Lynnwood firm faces $790K in fines for improper asbestos handling

State regulators said this is the fifth time Seattle Asbestos of Washington violated “essential” safety measures.

A truck towing a travel trailer crashed into a home in the Esperance neighborhood Thursday, May 23, 2024, in Edmonds, Washington. (South County Fire)
Man seriously injured after his truck rolls into Edmonds home

One resident was inside the home in the 22500 block of 8th Avenue W, but wasn’t injured, fire officials said.

Ferry workers wait for cars to start loading onto the M/V Kitsap on Friday, Dec. 1, 2023 in Mukilteo, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The Memorial Day holiday weekend travel nightmare is upon us

Going somewhere this weekend? You’ll have lots of company — 44 million new BFFs — on planes, trains and automobiles.

Bothell
Bothell family says racism at Seattle Children’s led to teen’s death

In February 2021, Sahana Ramesh, the daughter of Indian immigrants, died after months of suffering from a rare disease.

Boeing Firefighters and supporters have a camp set up outside of Boeing on Airport Road as the company’s lockout of union firefighters approaches two weeks on Thursday, May 16, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Union firefighters reject Boeing’s latest contract offer

The union’s 125 firefighters on Wednesday overwhelmingly rejected the offer, which included “an improved wage growth” schedule

A “No Shooting” sign on DNR land near Spada Lake is full of bullet holes on Thursday, Feb. 8, 2024, along Sultan Basin Road near Sultan, Washington. People frequent multiple locations along the road to use firearms despite signage warning them not to. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
County pumps the brakes on planned Sultan shooting range

The $47 million project, in the works for decades, has no partner or funding. County parks officials are reconsidering its viability.

Suzan DelBene, left, Rick Larsen
Larsen, DelBene request over $40M for projects in Snohomish County

If approved, Congress would foot the bill for traffic fixes, public transit, LED lights and much more around the county.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.