The Washington County (Ore.) Sheriff's Office in Hillsboro, Ore., is leaning toward the Caprice PPV and Tahoe PPV as replacements for the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor.
So far, county sheriff's office deputies have tested all three vehicles—the Chevrolet Caprice PPV, Dodge Charger Pursuit, and Ford Police Interceptor. The county purchased one Caprice PPV and one Tahoe PPV and plans to put them into service in a few weeks, Tom Baylis, fleet manager for the county, told Government Fleet.
"The Chevrolet Caprice PPV will most likely be our new primary patrol vehicle, and the Chevrolet Tahoe will also be used in certain specific patrol applications," Baylis said. "Any of them would probably be acceptable, but Caprice is the vehicle they felt the most comfortable with from a size, handling, and performance standpoint. They also liked the utility vehicle."
The county plans to drive the vehicles for at least a year before deciding on which vehicle to eventually go with, Baylis said. The vehicles will be circulated between two county precincts. The county will make a formal decision about which vehicles to go with, in large numbers, for the 2014/2015 fiscal year, according to Baylis. The county plans to use the Tahoe PPV in more rural areas, for specific command assignments, and for its K-9 unit.
The upfitting process is fairly straightforward, Baylis explained. The county worked with Kerr Industries to install customized wiring harnesses, prisoner seats, rear door/window protection, and ballistic panels in the two pilot vehicles. The remaining upfit process will be performed by county fleet staff.
"Because we're able to recycle the light bar, communications console, and prisoner screen, it's just a matter of adapting it to fit," Baylis said. "So now we're just dealing with screen, emergency lighting, radios, laptops, and gun locks. So it's a little bit different.
An important aspect of upfitting the vehicles is bringing deputies into the process.
"We're asking for their input where the prisoner screen partition should sit, etc.," Baylis said. "Those types of small variances can make a deputy's life comfortable or not."
Finding the money to replace the patrol cars and utility vehicles currently in service isn't a major issue for the county at this time, largely due to sound fiscal management, Baylis said. In addition, funding for vehicle replacement comes from three sources, he added: the general fund, a local option levy, and a third similar fund specific to the sheriff's patrol district in Washington County's urban unincorporated area.
"[Multiple funding sources] add some budgeting challenges for fleet and the sheriff's office, and for determining mileage projections, but it does give taxpayers some flexibility on choosing desired service levels," Baylis said.
The sheriff's office now operates 200 Ford CVPI patrol cars. The county ordered 25 extra Crown Victoria models to ensure a steady flow of replacement vehicles during the transition process through fiscal-year 2011/2012 and part of FY-2012/2013, and to help mitigate the eventual added expenses associated with the transition.
By Greg Basich