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Police use teen's design on cruiser

POSTED: March 9, 2017 10:24 a.m.
Photo by Alena Cowley/

Daniel Pereira, right, stands with RHPD Cpl. Jonathan Zirpolo.

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A "cool" car complete with 20-inch wheels is joining the local police fleet and it is all the creation of a 15-year-old Richmond Hill High School student.

The Richmond Hill Police Department seized a white 2007 Dodge Magnum from a drug dealer late last year. They changed the locks, cleaned it up, and decided it would best fit as a patrol car for the department’s School Resource Officer, Cpl. Jonathan Zirpolo.

Before the car could be used, it had to be redesigned.

Zirpolo and a detective thought of opening a design contest for the high school students. The two pitched the idea to Police Chief Mitch Shores, and Zirpolo said the chief liked it.

The schoolwide contest brought in 40 submissions, with the majority coming from the graphics arts department.

"The graphic arts classes grabbed it by the horns and kind of ran with it," Zirpolo said.

Last Monday, Zirpolo, Shores, and RHHS Principal Debi McNeal chose the submission from sophomore Daniel Pereira as the winning design.

"A lot of the designs were really, really cool. It was pretty tricky," Zirpolo said. "What we ended up looking for was a level of pop and would definitely stand out, but balance with a professional look," Zirpolo said.

Besides the RHPD logo, the all-black car design has gold claw marks on the sides with an open-mouthed wildcat in the place of the "o" in the word police.

Pereira explained how he came up with the idea.

"Obviously, the wildcat head logo was the biggest icon of our school, so I decided to incorporate that in the words "police car" and I thought the claw scratch would be a good addition to that," Pereira said.

Zirpolo seemed to agree.

"He really brought the school in with the police department and did a really, really good job blending the both of them," Zirpolo said.

To make the design, local graphic product retailer Pocket Media Marketing will install a black vehicle wrap. Zirpolo explained the wrap as being similar to vinyl decals that will cover the entire car.

The 10-year-veteran said RHPD had used seized vehicles for undercover operations, but had never turned one into a patrol car.

Zirpolo admitted they were "nervously excited," about giving teens control over the inaugural project, but he explained the department’s commitment to being involved in the community prompted them to try it.

"It’s just another way of us getting out there, getting connected with our community - where they’re not afraid of us. We’re not afraid of them. They know we’re approachable," Zirpolo said.

I think that it’s cool that our school is willing to do this because, of course, Officer Zirpolo is a big part of the school. Everyone knows him," Pereira said.

Zirpolo said he is looking forward to using the car, mentioning more space than the Chargers and a cool look.

"It’s got ridiculously huge 20-inch wheels on it," Zirpolo said.

He will use the car for patrol on school holidays and during the summers.

Pereira is excited for his design to be seen around town.

Zirpolo said they hope to present the car to Richmond Hill City Council at its next meeting.

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