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Philly P.D. Shifts Away From Front-Wheel-Drive Cruiser

Philadelphia's fleet division is taking proposals for the agency's new patrol car.

July 31, 2012  |  by - Also by this author

A Philadelphia P.D. Chevrolet Impala. CC_Flickr: 10-42Adam
A Philadelphia P.D. Chevrolet Impala. CC_Flickr: 10-42Adam

Earlier this month, the Philadelphia Police Department began issuing officers new patrol cars from the first batch of marked vehicles in several years.

The new cars weren't Chevrolet Caprice PPVs, Ford Police Interceptors, or Dodge Chargers. They were Chevrolet Impalas, General Motors' budget-friendly front-wheel-drive sedan.

The front-wheel Impala has been a "home run" for the department, James Muller, the city's fleet manager, told POLICE Magazine. And officers were comfortable driving them, because 90% of the department's 6,600 sworn officers drive a front-wheel vehicle as their personal vehicle. However, when the department chooses its "next gen" vehicle, it likely won't be a front-wheel-drive vehicle.

"The Impala was a home run with all the snow storms, so we don't have to put chains on them," Muller said. "They do well in the snow."

The city's fleet department is accepting bids from local dealers to supply the new cars. The agency is accepting proposals, which are due Aug. 8, for either front- or rear-wheel drive. The police department favors the Dodge Charger because officers like "the look of it," Muller said.

Muller, who oversees 750 marked units for the nation's six largest non-federal law enforcement agency, was given $4.9 million in city vehicle replacement funds for the 2012-'13 fiscal year that began July 1. Of that, $3 million was earmarked for police vehicles.

In addition to the 50 new cars, another 65 vehicles including emergency patrol wagons, Chevy Tahoe SUVs, and unmarked cars will arrive later in the year.

After that, the city will begin purchasing a new patrol car during the 2013-'14 fiscal year.

Muller has been adding Impalas to a fleet that also includes numerous aging Ford Crown Vics. Some of the Crown Vics have been so well used their odometers have crossed 200,000 and they have seen new engines and numerous transmission replacements.

Muller believes strongly in the Crown Vic platform, and said Ford should have kept the vehicle in service.

"The worst thing Ford did was they committed suicide when they stopped making the Crown Vic," Muller said.

Tags: Philadelphia PD, Patrol Cars, Chevrolet Impala, Ford CVPI


Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Rob @ 8/3/2012 7:55 AM

Mr. Muller said it best, "The worst thing Ford did was they committed suicide when they stopped making the Crown Vic." I hope it bites them hard! Also, kudos for buying a vehicle the officers want....I wish my department would listen to us like that.....does Philly accept lateral transfers?!?!

Eddie @ 8/9/2012 6:54 PM

Hopefully, all those who read this article KNOW that the Crown Vic could NOT be continued because it could NOT meet 2012 safety standards. Not exactly suicide in my book.
Why not buy patrol units on performance rather then looks. If it makes sense to buy front wheel drive cars one year to keep from buying snow chains, why not the next year as well?

michael @ 8/10/2012 1:00 AM

Eddie, I think it was the EPA requirements was the real problem. Ford caved in to the US Government and the tree huggers. The ford (Crown Vic) is still the only Police Vehicle that exceeds federal safety standards. The new vehicles are more plastic, smaller engines, better mpg and the front ends are easier to replace after a pit maneuver or substantial front end damage. That is just some of the issues, but the crown vic is still the best all around police vehicle in my book.

Rick @ 8/10/2012 4:51 AM

What's a "crusier"?

The article talks about what a "home run" the front wheel drive vehicle is, and that the officers like it, but then says they won't be choosing a front wheel drive vehicle for their "next-gen" vehicle, but there's no mention as to why.

Marshal Fine @ 8/10/2012 5:55 AM

Same thing happened when GM converted the Texas Caprice factory to Tahoe and ended the Caprice line in '97. Up to that time, the Caprice was the only REAL cop car, like the CV was after that. Seems to me that the big 3 shoots themselves in the foot for decades. Build something that most love and kill it. For me, the

(W)impala is an OK family car, but I (tall) can't get in them all cop geared up. To low and small. Nice car but very small. 1st gen Chargers are same way and very small windows!

Doug M. @ 8/22/2012 3:15 PM

Rick, a "cruiser" is East Coast/Northeast for "sqaud car".

Given the operating environment, RWD is not going to be their friend, and buying for looks is not a good choice.

FireCop @ 8/23/2012 5:44 AM

Michael is correct and Eddie is incorrect. The Crown Vic/Gran Marquis/Town Car platform was cancelled due to the same agency that is killing so many other programs in this country; the EPA. I always asked why I got 29 mpg in a civilian Crown Vic but a different rear end in my PI gave me only 23? I think the PI could have been tweaked to give us better fuel economy, and without all of the litigation regarding high speed rear end crashes with fatalities, we might still have the Crown Vic on the market. Like Rob said, I hope it bites them hard. In the interim, I'll continue to drive my 2010 Crown Vic PI every day on duty, in comfort. Be safe.

Major Pain @ 8/23/2012 6:25 AM

Doug M., you are right on. Yes, the Charger looks awesome, but it's blind and has been prone to various mechanical problems. And it's RWD. Those of us in the Northeast welcome Ford's new AWD Interceptors. The Crown Vic was a gas guzzling dinosaur. Philly will be sorry if they go with another overpowered RWD vehicle.

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