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Las Vegas Chooses Ford P.I. Utility for Patrol

The agency will roll out its first Ford P.I. Utility units in June.

February 22, 2013  |  by Adam Ogden

Photo: Brandon Qualls
Photo: Brandon Qualls

The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department chose Ford's Police Interceptor Utility as its new standard patrol vehicle, after more than two years of research, testing, evaluation, and feedback. The process began shortly after Ford announced it would halt production of the Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor (CVPI), Fleet Manager Daren Turner told POLICE Magazine.

"From preliminary planning to actually receiving the test vehicles took about six months to a year," Turner said. "After we received the vehicles, it took at least an additional year to complete our evaluation and develop a conclusion."

The department tested patrol vehicles from each of the Detroit 3, including Ford's Police Interceptor sedan and utility, Chrysler's Dodge Charger Pursuit, and General Motors' Chevy Caprice PPV and Tahoe SUV. The Chevy Impala wasn't evaluated.

"All of the vehicles were an improvement from the current CVPIs," Turner added. "However, when we received feedback from EVOC, as well as the officers who tested the vehicles, the answer was clear. This vehicle had the best handling and the best technology available of any of the competitors."

The LVMPD EVOC unit put the contenders through their paces, testing how they handled in the desert heat, urban Las Vegas Strip, and rural areas such as Red Rock Canyon and Mt. Charleston.

"Officer safety drove the decision more than anything," said Turner. "We wanted a vehicle with anti-lock brakes and stability control that was pursuit rated."

The agency expects to roll out their first batch (45 marked units) of Ford P.I. Utility vehicles in June and fully replace CVPIs within six years. Turners' fleet management unit must first add emergency equipment to the new vehicles. The evolution of technology with the new era of vehicles will smooth this process, said Dan Jackson, fleet operations supervisor.

"When we initially rolled out the CVPIs, everything was still incandescent or strobe lights," Jackson said. "With newer LEDs, it gives you the ability to add more lights with less power." LVMPD will use Federal Signal's Vision SLR lightbar paired with emergency lighting mounted in the push bumper. Additional technical advances could include in-car video systems and back-up sensors. Very little of the equipment from the Ford CVPI's will be added to the new vehicles.

The agency initially didn't evaluate the Ford P.I. Utility or Chevy Tahoe but said they were eventually determined to be a "much better vehicle for our needs," Jackson added. Officers needed the extra payload for their gear.

"We had an issue fitting all of the equipment in the trunk of some of the sedans," Turner said. "In others, the back seat was cramped for a man who is 5 feet 6 inches. Anyone over 6 feet tall would need to be transported in a van."

The agency's 2,194 officers will receive training on the P.I. Utility when they retake the EVOC course, Turner said.

"Handling characteristics are a lot different than the CVPI," Turner said. "Visibility has changed greatly; you're sitting much higher now. Combine that with the change to all-wheel drive and quicker acceleration than the Crown Vic and you have quite a different driving platform."

The economics of the vehicle also helped the agency gain approval. The P.I. Utility is nearly the same price as the Ford P.I. sedan, and the agency expects to get 25,000 additional miles out of each unit. Resale value is also expected to be greater than CVPIs, Turner said.

The LVMPD's fleet committee spearheaded the process that also involved three area commands, which evaluated each vehicle for nearly a month and provided feedback to the committee. The agency's fleet unit manages about 1,800 vehicles, including 650 marked units.

Adam Ogden is a freelance writer based in Nevada.

Tags: Las Vegas Metro PD, Ford Police Interceptor, Patrol Cars, Vehicle Testing


Comments (8)

Displaying 1 - 8 of 8

Capt. Crunch @ 2/25/2013 4:48 PM

Good choice, I think I will buy one.

John Wayne @ 2/25/2013 5:16 PM

Sounds like you did your homework. I commend you. Our agency refused to get the Tahoes because the perception from the public would be they cost more and use more gas. They made a dumb decision instead of just educating the public that they're cheaper and use less gas.

FireCop @ 2/26/2013 5:09 AM

What is the problem with so many agencies not 'selling' the facts on the Tahoe? It is almost the least expensive vehicle on state contract, gets better gas mileage than the CVPI and has tons of room. Plus it's a darn safe vehicle to drive with lots of power. Sounds like a good deal to me. Ford will need to bring the price down a few thousand on their Interceptor Utility before sales take off with that model. Nice vehicle but too expensive for many agencies. Stay safe.

Luke @ 4/23/2013 10:55 AM

I've evaluated all of the vehicles (as I run the EVOC program for my state). The Tahoe is big and slighty less expensive but that's about where the advantages end. Tahoes are not pursuit-rated, they're 2WD, lots of body-roll in corners, suck gas, and carry the negative public perception, in addition to other aspects.

The Ford above is more of a cross-over, AWD, 300+HP (more than enough), very roomy for front and back, and much more advanced in terms of electronics/stability/mpg/etc...

Not_Luke @ 7/6/2013 6:07 PM

You are incorrect. The 2wd Tahoe IS pursuit rated. The 4wd version is not.

jmlock @ 7/11/2013 1:50 PM

Nice. A person claiming to run the state EVOC for his state doesn't even know that the Tahoe PPV is pursuit rated. Wow.

Jeremy Brosnan @ 2/24/2014 8:49 PM

Anyone using a Tahoe or any SUV for chasing another vehicle is not thinking right, in fact all police should never go high speed to catch people. Counties with No Chase have just as much success in getting the suspect in the end later then causing a possible issue with speed. And since all these vehicles have v6s and mostly V8s they will all suck gas... you should all be using the new 2014 ESCAPE 2.0L EcoBoost I-4 engine - 22 city/30 hwy/25 combined mpg*; FWD, 240 horsepower

Adam @ 5/5/2014 11:41 PM

Jeremy- It should be noted that a vehicle "pursuit rating" doesn't just mean it can go fast. "Pursuit Rated" is an all-encompassing term used to describe MANY features on police units that are not included in civilian models, including upgraded braking systems, coolant systems, transmission, stability control, etc, etc. So EVERY vehicle that a LEO rides in needs to be 'pursuit rated", whether they ever go over 65 MPH or not.

Also, the idea that "all police should never go high speed to catch a person" isn't practical. If you have some statistical data to show that "no chase" counties have an equal capture success rate, I'd be interested in seeing that. What if someone just shot a fellow LEO? Are you going to cruise behind them at 50 mph? What about the frantic 911 call from a woman whose home is being burglarized at that very moment? Are you not going to use speed to get to her either?

I researched a lot to write this article, and now I'd have a hard time NOT wanting an SUV.

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