The new "art car" was unveiled to members of the Sun Valley community on March 28, 2018.EXPAND
The new "art car" was unveiled to members of the Sun Valley community on March 28, 2018.
Kenzie Bruce

Even Police Cars Can Be Art

Sunflowers, a falcon and children's faces: That's not an unexpected combination for a mural, but it is an unexpected combination for a patrol car.

Today, March 28, the Denver Police Department, Ink Monstr Graphic Design and Printing, and members of the Sun Valley community showed off the first “People’s Patrol Car." The DPD vehicle is a collaborative effort between the three entities that symbolizes the diversity of the community and the desire of local officers to strengthen their relationship with that community, says Commander Paul Pazen.

Kids in the neighborhood preferred yellow and green for the car, but officers and designers worried that it might look like a taxi. As a compromise, large yellow and green sunflowers trace part of the vehicle. There's also a depiction of downtown Denver, a white horse, bikes, the light-rail bridge and a falcon, which refers to the nearby Fairview Elementary School's mascot, as well as the ancient Egyptian symbol for the sun, designer and illustrator Scorpio Steele points out.

"On my lunch breaks I walk around Sun Valley, and just walking around gave me a lot of ideas for the car," Steele explains. "I've never worked on anything like this before...I've pretty much just done flat drawings. Thinking in three dimensions was the most challenging part, and making sure it all fit properly."

Meetings for the project began in October 2017; the organizers then sent a questionnaire to students, collected input from the Sun Valley Youth Center and held brainstorming exercises before the final design was approved and the car decorated. "Really, this is a symbol of unity in this neighborhood. It's bridging the gap between the officers and the community members," says Reed Silberman, owner and CEO of Ink Monstr.

A community resource officer will be driving the car to events, and it will be highly visible on patrol, too. "It's supposed to be a magnet to draw people in so we can engage with the kids and the community," says District 1 Sergeant Mark Novotny.

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