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The New Recruits: In-Service Cop Cars

The next era of patrol cars has begun, as agencies start buying replacements for Ford's now-defunct Crown Vic.

August 06, 2012  |  by

The Marion County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office's Ford Police Interceptor sedan. Photo: MCSO
The Marion County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office's Ford Police Interceptor sedan. Photo: MCSO

While some agencies prioritize performance, others say fuel economy drove their purchase decision. The Marion County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office says that's one of the primary reasons that it chose to purchase 36 Ford Police Interceptor sedans with 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 engines and all-wheel drive. The sheriff’s office will receive four to five new Ford P.I. sedans each week to replace its aging Ford CVPIs.

"Although this engine boasts 365 horsepower, it is estimated to provide at least a 20% increase in our current fuel mileage," says Judge Cochran, the MCSO public information officer.

Cochran explains that this improved fuel economy could save the agency $500,000 a year once the entire fleet is upgraded to the new models. The county will equip the new vehicles with radios, computers, graphics, and other police equipment.

"While being able to keep all of the options that are available on the current Crown Victoria Interceptor models, the committee decided to add a few more options that are now available with the new Police Interceptors," Cochran says. "One option is a driver-side ballistic door panel. Another option ordered with the new vehicles is back-up sensors that will warn officers when they are near anything when the vehicle is in reverse."

Before committing to the purchase, the sheriff’s office tested the Ford models at a road course in Orlando in December.

"A SWAT member drove his current patrol vehicle and was able to fit all of his patrol and SWAT equipment in the new sedan with space to spare," Cochran says. "The vehicle they picked as the best for handling and performance was the Police Interceptor sedan. It was described as being a 'game-changer' by one of the deputies."

To pay for the vehicles, the County Commission earmarked $442,000 to replace patrol vehicles in the 2009-2010 fiscal year. For the 2010-2011 fiscal year, the sheriff received approval that returned funds, $2.15 million in the MSTU (Municipal Service Taxing Unit) budget and $702,515 in county-wide funds, would be earmarked for replacement vehicles. The $442,000 went to pay for 14 Ford P.I. sedans and two Ford P.I. Utility models. One of each vehicle type will be used for the sheriff's K-9 unit.

Other agencies planning to use the Ford P.I. sedan include the Chicago Police Department, Des Moines (Iowa) Police Department, New York Police DepartmentVirginia State Police, and Wisconsin State Patrol.

The Ford P.I. Utility's increased payload, 75-mph rear-crash rating, and lower-slung car platform have attracted plenty of state police agencies, including the Massachusetts State Police. The MSP, which was one of the first agencies nationwide to adopt Ford’s P.I. Utility, has issued several of the vehicles to troopers and plans to use it as the primary enforcement vehicle in a current fleet of 1,800 marked units.

"The rear-end crash rating is very important to us," says Sgt. Mark Caron, the MSP's fleet administrator. "We do have a lot of rear-end hits. That crash test makes us feel very comfortable."

Massachusetts troopers will be issued the all-wheel-drive Utility to replace the rear-wheel Ford CVPIs. The reason administration chose all-wheel drive is easy to understand: snow. The all-wheel drive will assist troopers in exiting highway off-ramps and cornering especially on the hilly roads in the western part of the state, Sgt. Caron says.

The agency chose the Utility over Ford's P.I. sedan mostly for its increased interior space, especially for transporting prisoners. So far, the Utility has been a hit with the troopers who drive it.

"They love it," Sgt. Caron says. "They like the handling capability, the cornering, the acceleration, and the space. You sit a little bit higher, so you get a little bit better field of vision."

The agency agreed to purchase the Ford P.I. Utility for about $30,000 per vehicle, and can also add sedans for about $28,000 under the agreed-upon contract. The vehicles are painted in the agency’s blue-and-and gray color scheme. The agency then equips the vehicles with a lightbar, cage, and consoles for the police equipment.

Due to budget constraints, Sgt. Caron is now replacing 15% to 20% of his fleet each year. Police fleet managers strive to replace a third of their fleet annually.

Other agencies that have chosen the Ford P.I. Utility include the California Highway Patrol, Collin County (Texas) Police Department, Pennsylvania State Police, and Texas DPS.

Greg Basich contributed to this article. Greg is the Web editor for POLICE Magazine's sister publication Government Fleet.

Related:

PHOTOS: In-Service Cop Cars

Keeping the Crown Vic

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