Elvia Malagon and Jonathon Berlin
Chicago police Officer Jennifer Jacobucci drew inspiration from a lot of influences, including psychedelic rocker Jim Morrison as she sketched out what would become the winning images, colors and other designs adorning the department’s new squad cars.
“This redesign was inspired through my world travels, the history of the department — and I really like the retro design of the ’60s and ’70s car. But I kind of wanted to make it a little bit more fresh,” Jacobucci said. “Jim Morrison … he says that, ‘Each generation wants new symbols, new people, new names. They want to divorce themselves from their predecessors.’ Which I feel is kind of like a state that we are in right now.”
Indeed, in announcing the departmentwide contest last year, Chicago police Superintendent Eddie Johnson told staff that the new design would reflect a new era. Submitted designs were reviewed by a panel of police officers and residents, but Johnson had the final say — and Jacobucci’s work won the day.
Now the department is rolling out the first of the 2018 Ford Police Interceptors with her design. The SUVs are white, with the lower part of the doors stamped with two rows of dark blue and gray checkerboard. Below that is white-on-blue lettering with the words “CHICAGO POLICE.” Above the checkered pattern is the red-lettered motto “We Serve & Protect.” A large blue police star sits above each rear tire.
Jacobucci, a 12-year veteran assigned to a detail at O’Hare International Airport, said the colors are meant to make the car approachable, but the lines symbolize authority. The entire design is meant to create movement, she said.
“I wanted to take the viewer’s eye around the car so having that angle and that line showing movement and direction kind of incorporated that too,” Jacobucci said.
She wanted to keep the design simple while incorporating symbols of the department’s traditions. For example, each side has a large police star, and she designed a blue and gray checkered pattern that runs diagonally across the doors.
“I feel like that’s one of the more recognizable symbols for CPD, and I think we adopted that from overseas,” Jacobucci said as she explained how other departments around the world also use the pattern.
The first newly marked police car will be deployed soon in the Englewood District, and the rest of the estimated 500 cars will be rolled out across the city based on the needs and vehicle replacement schedule for the various districts, said Anthony Guglielmi, spokesman for the department. Johnson, the top cop, requested the first new car be given to Englewood, a nod to the commander’s work to “strengthen relationships with the community,” Guglielmi said.
The new fleet isn’t just getting a new look on the outside. Inside, the vehicles will be equipped with a license plate reader, new emergency lights and technology that will allow officers to get real-time crime mapping. A price tag for the new fleet wasn’t immediately available.
Coming up with sketches is nothing new for Jacobucci, who studied graphic design in college and worked in marketing before becoming an officer. There wasn’t a prize for winning the contest, but she soon will see her design around the city.
“I think I’m still kind of in shock,” she said.
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