Perry police expect to roll out seven 2015 Ford Interceptor SUVs by month’s end, with plans to replace all patrol vehicles over time with the small sport utility vehicles.
“When we research vehicles, we look at what we think is going to work best for us,” Perry Police Chief Steve Lynn said. “We also look at purchase price, and we look at repair costs and we look at operational costs. That’s why we’ve settled on the Ford as the best fit for Perry.”
The Ford Crown Victoria was the standard police vehicle for most agencies throughout the country for many years. When the manufacturer stopped making them, agencies were forced to take a look at other options.
The sedans that followed were smaller, Lynn said.
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“It became a space issue,” he said. “At first we went with the Ford Interceptor sedans, and it’s a good platform.
“It’s also a V-6, gets gas good mileage, good performance, good road worthiness. But (there’s) not as much room for somebody in the back seat or for any kind of equipment you have to put in the trunk,” he said.
The agency began to look for a comparable vehicle that would offer more space, Lynn said. That ultimately led to the Interceptor SUV.
A field test
But Perry police’s first Interceptor SUV originally was purchased for the department’s criminal investigations division, Lynn said.
“It turned out not to be adequately sized for the crime-scene equipment that it was bought to carry, so we did have to upgrade to a full-size SUV for that particular function,” Lynn said. “But this was a patrol-ready vehicle.
“So we took it, we striped it, added the lights and gave it to Sgt. (Leyon) Roberts, who is one of our veteran supervisors with a lot of experience with vehicles and patrol and asked him to field test it and evaluate it,” Lynn said.
Roberts, who’s now in his 30th year with Perry police, has driven an Interceptor SUV about a year.
“There’s a lot more room in it,” Roberts said. “There’s more room in the back for your prisoners. You have storage room in the back compartment. ... It handles a lot better than your two-wheel-drive vehicles especially in weather like ice or rain.”
Lynn said he thinks the Interceptor is the best value for his agency’s needs.
“We always keep an eye on this: What is the best value for the city?” Lynn said. “So even though it’s an SUV, it’s a smaller SUV and it’s fuel efficient and it meets our needs without busting the budget, and that’s important. We try not to be extravagant, but we do try to get what we need to operate.”
The vehicles cost about $30,400 each plus an additional $19,000 to outfit for police work with lights, sirens, cameras and consoles for a total cost of about $49,400, said Perry police Capt. Bill Phelps, head of the patrol division.
As the Interceptors replace the old Crown Victorias, the outdated police equipment also is being replaced, Phelps said. The outfitting cost should drop once all the outdated equipment has been rotated out of inventory, he said.
The new batch of vehicles were purchased on five-year, 100,000-mile extended warranties, which Lynn said should took care of any major repairs that the vehicles have.
Last year, Warner Robins police added six 2013 Dodge Chargers and five 2013 Interceptor SUVs to its fleet.
The vehicles replaced aging Crown Victorias, and officers had input on what types of vehicles would best suit their needs, police said.
Patrol officers favored the Chargers that have extra engine power, while the Interceptors were preferred by SWAT commanders and supervisors, police said.
The Bibb County Sheriff’s Office chose Chargers for its patrol officers. Bibb also has some Chevy Tahoes for specialized uses such as the bomb squad or canine unit, Sheriff David Davis said.
Even before Macon-Bibb County consolidation, both the sheriff’s office and Macon police were moving to the Chargers to replace the Crown Victorias for daily patrol duties, Davis said.
The Charger was a little bigger than the Ford Interceptor sedan, appeared to be more reliable and came at a better cost than the Ford or Chevrolet police vehicle, Davis said.
Also, the sedan body style was preferred over the body-style of an SUV, Davis said, “especially with what we do in our surroundings.”
“Up here, we’re more metropolitan and the cars are better able to maneuver and we just get better service out of the cars,” Davis said.
Davis added that he wouldn’t discount SUV purchases in the future, but for now, the Charger has been “a pretty steady platform for us” for about the last three years.
The Georgia State Patrol’s fleet for its marked, pursuit vehicles are Chargers, said Capt. Mark Perry, a GSP public information officer.
Some leftover Chevrolet Tahoes are driven by the agency’s specialized reconstruction team and by some safety education troopers, he said.
“A lot of it is budgetary, it’s economics, what you can buy a fleet of cars for a certain price verses another fleet,” Perry said.
“There’s so much that factors into it. But when you do pick the Dodge Charger, you do get a great pursuit vehicle in the end.”
Nationwide, Ford claims to have a bigger share of the police vehicle market, billing its Ford Interceptor SUV as the top-selling police vehicle in 2013, according to a Ford news release. The SUV accounted for 60 percent of all of Ford’s Interceptor sales, the release said.