Police agencies divided on new car models

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office chose the Taurus-based Ford Police Interceptor to replace the Crown Victoria and has already purchased 34 patrol cars.

After years of loyal service from Ford’s Crown Victoria, area police agencies are divided on what new model can compare with it.


Ford announced in 2010 that it would discontinue the sedan after 2011, but it has offered a 2012 Taurus-based Ford Police Interceptor and an Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility in its place. Agencies can also choose from the Dodge Charger Pursuit and the Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle.

The Burke County Sheriff’s Office and North Augusta Department of Public Safety have decided to stick with what they know for now.

“We refer to them as 2011-B purchases,” North Augusta Public Safety Lt. Tim Thornton said of the half-dozen or so 2011 Crown Victorias they bought from surplus. He said that will give them time to make a decision after the new options have been on the road.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office has chosen the new Ford Police Interceptor and has already purchased 34 patrol cars and five traffic cars. The long-standing history with Ford products influenced the decision.

A few of the cars are already in Augusta and some could be road-ready by June.

Larry Williams, the municipal sales manager for Bobby Jones Ford, said the cars are on the lot waiting to be painted and outfitted with equipment. He’s dealing with a backlog for equipment. Williams said some of the manufacturers didn’t start making parts until after the cars came out, causing a problem meeting demand.

Capt. David Turno, of the Aiken Department of Public Safety, said it also chose Ford vehicles for now.

The department pur­chased four Police Inter­ceptor Utility vehicles for lieutenants on patrol but is leaning toward the Dodge Charger for a patrol vehicle. Turno said the Chargers will not be bought until the end of this fiscal year in July.

The Columbia County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia State Patrol are choosing the Charger, which they have used before.

“There’s just not a lot of history on how (the other options) hold up,” said Pam Tucker, the director of the Emergency and Operations Division in Columbia County.

The Aiken County Sher­iff’s Office is still debating. Capt. Troy Elwell estimates 30-40 vehicles will be replaced after the start of the fiscal year.

So far no one locally has chosen the Chevrolet Caprice.

“It’s a great car, but the thing we found when we drove it was mileage was worse. That’s big right now,” State patrol Capt. Keith Canup said.


Ford discontinues Crown Vic
Police officers regret discontinuation of cruiser
Richmond County sheriff's office zeroes in on new police car


Richmond County Sheriff’s Office Ford -- Police Interceptor

Columbia County Sheriff’s Office -- Dodge Charger Pursuit

North Augusta Public Safety -- 2011 Ford Crown Victoria

Aiken County Sheriff’s Office -- Undecided

Aiken Public Safety Ford Police -- Interceptor Utility /  Dodge Charger Pursuit

Georgia State Patrol -- Dodge Charger Pursuit

Burke County Sheriff’s Office -- 2011 Ford Crown Victoria


MAKING COMPARISONS: Small agencies that don’t have the means to test-drive cars on the track look to larger agencies’ comparisons before making a purchase. One of the larger agencies is the Michigan State Police, which publishes a thorough report every year of the top options and how they compare. View the report at www.michigan.gov.

Columbia County deputies getting Dodge Chargers