They may not have the most intimidating presence, but electric cars can play an important role in law enforcement.

Police vehicles spend a lot of time idling or negotiating traffic, particularly in urban areas.

With adequate charging infrastructure, electric cars can be perfectly suited to certain tasks, while radically reducing the emissions of a city's fleet.

CHECK OUT: Washington State To Give Electric Cars Tax Breaks, Carpool-Lane Access? (Dec 2014)

Seattle, for one, thinks electric cars can be useful in traffic enforcement.

The Emerald City will deploy 28 new Nissan Leaf electric cars for its traffic enforcement department.

That's according to Nissan, which posted a photo on Twitter (via Seattle Nissan Leaf Owners) showing a group of white cars with the Seattle city seal.

2015 Nissan Leaf

2015 Nissan Leaf

The cars in the photo actually appear to be older 2011 and 2012 models--apparently already in the city fleet--that will be supplemented by those in the latest order.

Urban congestion and the predictability of set patrol routes make electric cars a viable choice for urban law-enforcement work, and Seattle isn't the first to give them a try.

RELATED: Italy's Crisp Carabinieri Get New Patrol Cars: Tiny Electric Minicars (Sep 2014)

The Leaf has been tested by multiple police agencies, including Portugal's Policia Seguranca Publica (PSP).

Even the tiny Mitsubishi i-MiEV electric car has found police work, with agencies in Hong Kong, Japan, Spain, and the U.K.

2015 Nissan Leaf

2015 Nissan Leaf

It's also used by Italy's Carabinieri, making for quite a contrast to the flashy Lamborghini patrol cars in the police force's fleet.

The New York Police Department uses a fleet of Chevrolet Volt plug-in cars for traffic enforcement, and rosters numerous hybrids as well.

SEE ALSO: New York City Electrifies NYPD With 2011 Chevrolet Volt (Jul 2011)

While you won't see any of these cars engaged in a high-speed pursuit, they can still be useful in some of the less-intense aspects of law enforcement.

The Tesla Model S, on the other hand--especially in its high-performance P85D version--sounds like pretty much the perfect pursuit vehicle to us ....

[hat tip: Brian Henderson]


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