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Photo Controversy Erupts After Detroit’s New Police Cars Revealed

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(credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

(credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

DETROIT (WWJ) – A local photographer is crying foul over an image that appears on a new set of public safety vehicles unveiled by the city.

Mayor Dave Bing handed over the keys to 15 new squad cars and 10 ambulances during a presentation downtown on Thursday.

Meantime, Bobby Alcott claims that a photo of the Detroit skyline featured on the vehicles is his under copyright — and that the Downtown Detroit Partnership did not purchase the image.

“I’m not trying to be mean about it. I’m not trying to be a jerk,” Bobby Alcott told WWJ Newsradio 950.  “I’m just saying it’s my property. And if anybody had something that was theirs that was stolen or used, you know, illegally, you’d probably want to … defend your copyright as well.”

Mayor Dave Bing makes the presentation in Detroit. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

Mayor Dave Bing makes the presentation in Detroit. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

A spokesperson for the Downtown Detroit Partnership denies they stole the image. And Alcott later conceded the image on the cars was not his — they were only on the photo on the mock-up that was displayed before the cars went public.

Heather Kazmierczak, director of marketing and communications for the DDP, said the photos used on the cars were legally obtained.

“I can confirm [we] did obtain that photo from an independent photographer who is based in Canada,” she said, adding, “The photo was taken in 2013 and the rights were secured for the use on the police cars.”

The vehicles were purchased with an $8 million donation from city business leaders — including Penske Corp. Chairman Roger Penske.

“I go back to February, almost six months ago, when the mayor pulled us together and talked about neighborhoods; talked about school children; talked about safety, and things that we needed to have in this community,” said Penske. “And we knew what we needed, and we got together.”

Along with Penske, other donors included Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, Chrysler LLC, Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Quicken Loans.

Thirteen more ambulances are expected before the end of the year, while an additional 85 patrol cars will roll out as they’re equipped.

Each of Detroit’s 23 ambulances is being replaced at a cost of about $161,000 per vehicle. The new police cars cost from between $45,000 and $50,000 each.

(credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

A parade to celebrate the unveiling. (credit: Pat Sweeting/WWJ)

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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