Photo courtesy of city of Napa.

Photo courtesy of city of Napa.

The city of Napa, Calif., is switching its patrol cars from the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor sedan to the Chevrolet Caprice PPV and has received four of the new vehicles so far.

The city's marked enforcement fleet consists of 23 vehicles, 17 of which are Crown Victorias, two are Chevrolet Tahoes, and four are the new Caprice patrol cars. The city plans to replace all of the Crown Victorias with new Caprice models, said Chris Burgeson, the city's fleet manager.

Selecting the Caprice was a long-term project, taking more than two years, according to Burgeson. He said the City began researching new vehicles as soon as Ford announced the Crown Victoria would end production after MY-2011.

"Our evaluation team consisted of members from our Fleet division, our PD, and our IT division," Burgeson told Government Fleet. "Our close proximity to the port-of-entry (in Benicia, Calif.) meant we could take the short drive to see the first cars after they unloaded from the ships. After viewing, crawling under and over, probing and prodding, and multiple test drives of each of the OEM offerings, our team felt the Caprice was the best tool for the job based on driving characteristics and performance, and overall 'maintainability.' This last quality is probably the heaviest weighted factor in our final decision."

The biggest change for the city's fleet division is in the upfitting process due to all the new components on the vehicles. Burgeson worked with the upfitter (the city uses an outside company) to move the department's Panasonic Toughbooks from the cabin to the trunk. Now, officers access the computer via a remote display and keyboard in the cabin, which helps conserve space.

So far, Burgeson said fuel economy for the new vehicles is solid.

"Most of the cars have only been in service for a few weeks," he said. "Preliminary fuel data is showing the new cars are tracking with very similar fuel economy to the Crown Vics." He added that after making minor changes to the vehicles in the first few days of active service, common in major transitions such as this, he’s heard positive feedback from officers.

By Greg Basich