Richmond County sheriff's office zeroes in on new police car

Technician Chad Binning looks under the hood of a Crown Victoria. Ford is discontinuing the Crown Victoria after this year, and Richmond County will start using its Police Interceptor.



Finding a replacement for the much loved Crown Victoria police car was a troubling thought, but the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office thinks it has found a winner.

Ford announced that the popular police vehicle model would no longer be produced after 2011. Law enforcement across the country was left to choose a new car that could keep officers safe.

Three options are said to be popular: the Dodge Charger Pursuit, the Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle or Ford’s replacement option, the Police Interceptor.

Richmond County sheriff’s Capt. Scott Gay flew to Indianapolis in August to test the new Ford model.

“After driving all three, I was very much impressed with the new (Ford) Police Interceptor,” Gay said.

He was able to drive the new interceptor and the 2011 Crown Victoria on a city and country track and a drag strip.

“In all three courses, the Police Interceptor outperformed the other vehicles, hands down.”

One of the main selling points for Richmond County was fuel savings. The new model will provide 30 percent more miles per hour without losing horsepower and a 40 percent improvement on idle time.

“There’s a lot more bells and whistles that weren’t available before,” Gay said.

One of the changes that will be an asset is the move of the emergency light control from the dash to the steering wheel in an effort to keep an officer’s hands on the wheel as much as possible, he said.

Although the model might appear smaller, Gay said the interior is about equal to the Crown Victoria. Space was taken from the trunk and engine compartments.

The interior in the Charger, however, was much smaller.

The Caprice “priced itself out” of the equation, Fleet Manager Ron Crowden said.

Richmond County paid $27,000 for a fully outfitted Crown Victoria in 2010.

The Charger has been estimated at $24,000 and the Caprice at $28,000, both before emergency equipment, which can cost up to $4,000.

Although pricing is not definite for the Ford yet, Gay said it will be comparable to the Crown Victorias.

Richmond County receives funding for 40 new vehicles each year. Crowden said the new models will not hit the highway locally until sometime next year.

Columbia County Sheriff’s Office has not yet made a decision on its replacement patrol vehicle.

The Aiken County Sheriff’s Office has not made an official decision at this time.

However, “the Chevrolet Tahoe with the pursuit package is being considered a strong contender due to its safety rating, storage area and similar fuel economy to the Crown Victoria,” Capt. Troy Elwell said in an e-mail Wednesday.

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