Danville police respond to social media post; stop practice of opening hoods to cool down cars

(WDBJ)
Published: Sep. 26, 2016 at 7:09 PM EDT
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After a social media post goes viral, the Danville Police Department says they are going to stop the practice of opening the hoods when trying to cool down the patrol cars.

The Danville Police Department is responding to a social media post that's been shared nearly 40,000 times.

A community member shared a Facebook post asking why Danville officers opened the hoods of their cars while responding to a call.

We spoke with community members who were concerned about the hoods blocking the dash camera.

We also asked the Danville Police Department about those concerns.

They say officers started doing this to cool down the cars because electrical parts were melting.

"It wouldn't be unusual for it to get so hot, it will melt this piece or that piece," Danville Police Department Lieutenant Mike Wallace explained.

Lieutenant Mike Wallace of the Danville Police Department says the heat has damaged 10 cars.

That's cost the department over $16,000 for repairs just this year.

"You can actually feel some of the heat coming through here now, the car's been sitting for a little while but you can feel a little heat coming out of it," Wallace said.

Some of the newer cars have hood vents but Wallace says that's not a perfect fix.

So, as a temporary solution, they told the officers to pop the hood.

"And we were only going to do that, if the car was sitting still for a long period of time. If an officer was stopped doing some paper work, maybe directing traffic or something like that," Wallace said.

Ebony Guy is with Virginia Organizing in Danville. She says the photo shocked a lot of people.

"A lot of people who shared the photo or commented on the photo. They were very surprised as well. They didn't know this was a common, regular practice with law enforcement officers" Virginia Organizing's Ebony Guy said.

She says they want clarity.

"I think law officers have a very hard job and they have been doing a great job here in the city of Danville. People have different views of the police because of what's happening nationwide. I think we need clarity so that people can be at more ease if there is a legit equipment issue with the engines or anything like that," Guy said.

Danville police say the social media post spread misinformation about the department.

"It's really a laughable idea to think that an officer would get out of his car during a critical incident or traffic stop and say, hey time out, I got to put the hood up. No. Tactically that's not sound and that's the kind of police work the citizens here deserve," Wallace said.

The Pittsylvania County Sheriff's Office who says they run into the same engine issues and open the hoods when necessary.

Chief Phillip Broadfoot says he made the decision to stop the practice of opening the hoods because he is committed to transparency.

Read the FULL press release below:

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"The Danville Police Department today discontinued the practice of raising the hood on patrol vehicles because of concerns from citizens that raising the hoods prevented the in-car camera from recording a police/citizen interaction.

The practice of raising hoods was a temporary remedy for heat damage to electronic components in police cars that occurred during extreme heat. The hoods were raised when the vehicles were idling for extended periods of time.

In an effort to build community trust and be more transparent, the Danville Police Department has used in-car video equipment for more than a decade. In addition, the Police Department adopted the use of body worn cameras for officers over four years ago.

In August, police began raising hoods on vehicles as a temporary remedy to ongoing issues with heat damage to electronic components. In the last six months, the Danville Police Department spent $16,263.85 for heat related repairs on patrol vehicles.

Several steps were taken to alleviate the heat related damage. Cooling louvers were added to the vehicle hoods. An additive was used in the engine coolant system and hoods were raised to further vent the engine compartment.

The Police Department will continue to seek other remedies for the heat related damage.

Police Chief Philip Broadfoot said, “The Danville Police Department understands the community’s concerns and is committed to transparency in interactions with the public.”