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.