Basel police nearly lose suspect after being locked in Tesla

Basel police nearly lose suspect after being locked in Tesla

In what can only be described as a comedy of errors, a recent leak given to Primenews has revealed that the Swiss police nearly lost a suspect after they couldn’t open the doors of their Tesla patrol car. Despite the incident, authorities in the city of Basel still want to use the vehicles.

Tesla police cars used in Swiss city of Basel

It all started so well. When Teslas were given to the police of Canton Basel-Stadt in December 2018, they were given much praise by locals and the media. The seven electric cars were described as "the most beautiful police cars" ever seen, according to 20 minuten, with one car lover telling authorities to “arrest me now.”

Now, a police log from 2020, leaked to Primenews, has shown that the doors of the new Teslas broke down during an arrest. The report said that the incident started when police in Basel asked two cyclists to stop and submit to a drugs check. When one of them refused and took off, the emergency services wanted to get out of the moving car to pursue the suspect on foot.

Tesla's doors failed when trying to catch a suspect

However, both automatic vehicle doors were blocked, making it impossible to get out. Noticing the calamity, the suspect leisurely cycled around the car at “walking pace” while mocking the police officers, according to Blick. Even when officers stopped the vehicle in an area free of obstruction, the front doors wouldn’t budge.

Luckily for the police, the mocking cyclist was taken out by his own hubris, after he nearly lost control of his bike trying to show off, and in the end, actually crashed into the immobilised police car. "After the collision, it was no longer possible to open the passenger door," Primenews noted. 

In the end, a police officer managed to climb out of a 60-centimetre gap made by opening the gull-wing backseat door, while another climbed out through the passenger window. The suspect was eventually held by the two officers, who found drugs on his person.

Basel police to continue to use Teslas as police cars

When asked by Blick, Swiss police said that the incident was not of concern, as it occurred two years ago when the cars were new. Authorities noted that the Teslas also have a special exit that can be used while driving, making the vehicles safe for use.

However, according to 20 minuten, this isn’t the first time Basel’s Tesla police cars have been in the news. Just a few weeks after their launch, the vehicles had to be withdrawn temporarily due to “privacy reasons." In February 2019, the business audit commission of Basel’s Grand Council found that authorities’ “approach to the replacement procurement of the emergency vehicles must be described as unlawful", as they had not followed proper procedures in buying the vehicles.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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