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The first dozen of 49 new cruisers, Chevy Tahoes, took to the road today for the Buffalo Police Department.

These new vehicles begin the replacement of an aging fleet of patrol vehicles.

Chaplains for the police force blessed the black-and-white sport utility vehicles before they began their tour of duty on city streets this morning. Eventually, the city’s 180 patrol cars will be replaced with these highly visible Tahoes.

“The rest of the 49 Tahoes are either in transit or waiting to be shipped here and will hopefully arrive by mid-May,” Police Commissioner Daniel Derenda said. “We’re glad they’re here. We need them.”

The change from white-and-blue Ford police cars to the SUVs with the more traditional color scheme of black and white was done purposely, the commissioner added.

“People are familiar with black and white. The colors are universally recognized as patrol vehicle colors,” Derenda said. “We want our officers to be more visible and we believe this accomplishes that.”

“Public safety has always been a top priority of my administration and we believe these new vehicles that are more visible and modern will continue to accomplish that,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown, who attended the blessing of the vehicles at Buffalo Police Headquarters at Franklin and Church streets.

Rev. James Lewis, the senior master chaplain for the police department, officiated over the blessing.

email: lmichel@buffnews.com