RUTHERFORD, NJ The Rutherford Police Department will add a Toyota Highlander Hybrid to its fleet, according to The Leader.

The RPD will be one of the first police departments in South Bergen to add a hybrid to its fleet of vehicles, reported The Leader.

Money from the New Jersey Meadowlands Commission's Municipal Assistance Program will be used for the purchase, Councilman John Genovesi explained at a council meeting last month.

The Highlander's first year on the road will serve as a test for the department and the borough, with the expectation that it will demonstrate considerable fuel savings. If it lives up to its potential, the remainder of the department's fleet could be converted to hybrid, Genovesi explained after the meeting.

The police department's cars run nearly 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and their fuel use is considerable, Genovesi said. So, in December, when Genovesi and police officials began discussing the borough's budget constraints, they focused attention on the issue of fuel. Police cars are at the top of the borough's fuel consumption list.

Les Shenkler, the borough administrator, put Genovesi and police officials in contact with the Borough of Westwood, where hybrid vehicles are in use by law enforcement officers. Subsequent test drives and savings numbers from Westwood sealed the deal, Genovesi said.

For example, a hybrid Ford Escape used by the Westwood Police Department saved 796.84 gallons of fuel in one month, compared to the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria. When compared with the department's Dodge Charger, the savings were even greater, 828 gallons saved in a month, Genovesi said.

The Highlander will cost substantially less to run per shift — $3.84 per shift for the hybrid, as opposed to $9.35 for the Crown Victoria, Genovesi estimated.

"We're real excited about it," said Police Director John Thompson, who noted that the initial cost would be a little more than the Crown Victoria. But, the difference in price should be recouped in the Highlander's first year on the road, he said.

The new unit will be used in patrol, Thompson said.