Richmond County Sheriff's Office rolling out new patrol cars

The Richmond County Sheriff's Office is starting to replace the familiar Ford Crown Victoria (right) with the Ford Police Interceptor.

Police cars in Richmond County are getting a new look.

Two new Ford Police Inter­ceptor sedans hit the streets Friday, and over the next two months 32 more will follow.

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and other police agencies that for years depended on the Ford Crown Victoria were faced with a challenge in 2011 when Ford announced it was being discontinued. Police agencies looked at the Chevrolet Caprice and Impala, the Dodge Charger and the new Ford Police Interceptor as options.

“We couldn’t understand why Ford was doing away with Old Reliable,” Capt. Scott Gay said, but after he drove the new Ford, he understood.

“I’ve never driven anything that handles like this car,” said Larry Williams, the government sales manager at Bobby Jones Ford, who served in law enforcement for 20 years. “It out-handles everything on the road.”

Most departments in the area did not choose the Ford model. Columbia County, Aiken Public Safety and the Georgia State Patrol have selected the Dodge Charger, a car that had already been experimented with in their fleet. North Augusta Public Safety and Burke County will stick with the Crown Victoria a little longer before making a switch.

The new Ford’s gas mileage was a huge deciding factor, Gay said. The rear-wheel-drive Crown Victoria with a V-8 enginegets about 12 miles per gallon. The all-wheel-drive Police Interceptor with a V-6 gets about 20 miles per gallon and has more horsepower.

Although the Police Interceptor looks like the Ford Taurus, it is not a Taurus at all, Williams said; it is the first police vehicle put together from scratch.

The vehicles were expected to be road-ready by June, but parts on back order left cars across the country sitting in lots for months.

The 34 new Richmond County deputies’ cars and five new traffic cars will replace the oldest vehicles in the sheriff’s office’s fleet. The old cars will be stripped of their equipment and go on the government auction block.

The sheriff’s office is asking that the public become familiar with the new model. Its fear is that drivers will see the new cars trying to pull them over and believe it’s someone posing as an officer.

“It looks completely different than the old body style,” Gay said, although the new cars have the same paint scheme and decals.

Someone who questions whether an officer is pulling him over should call 911 immediately and go to a well-lighted area. Police dispatchers will tell the driver whether the person initiating the traffic stop is a Richmond County deputy, Gay said.

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