SPD Rolling Out Test of New Patrol Vehicles

The Ford Crown Victoria—the police department’s standard-issue patrol cruiser for nearly the last 20 years—will soon join the Plymouth Fury, Dodge Diplomat, and Studebaker horse-drawn carriage in that great SPD squad car scrap heap in the sky.

Ford has retired the Crown Victoria model, and the department is now testing six different vehicles — the Chevrolet Tahoe SUV, Chevrolet Caprice, Chevy Impala, Ford Interceptor sedan, Ford Interceptor SUV, and Dodge Charger — to replace the Crown Vic as SPD’s standard patrol vehicle.

While patrol officers in the department have used at least a dozen different types of vehicles over the last 126 years, this is the first time the department has heavily involved officers in testing the vehicles.

“Generally these decisions would have been made…up in the ivory tower” of police headquarters, SPD Chief John Diaz joked during a meeting with officers on the future of SPD’s patrol fleet Wednesday afternoon “That’s not the way we want to do this.”

Soon, approximately 160 officers will begin testing the six new vehicles and provide the department with input on which of the cars or SUVs they believe should become SPD’s new mobile offices.

John Abraham, a member of the department’s traffic unit and self-described “motor cop by trade,” says he’d like a patrol car that’s “comfortable while sitting in the car,  safe,” handles well in all types of weather conditions, and is capable of holding all the equipment officers haul around while out on patrol.

South Precinct Lieutenant John Hayes, who’s a very tall man, also offered up his two cents: “Leg room! That’s very important.”

The department is also looking to add other features to patrol vehicles, like LED lights — to lighten the load on patrol vehicle batteries — and backup sensors to help officers avoid fender benders.

Keep an eye out for the test vehicles as they’re rolled out to precincts in the coming months, first at the West Precinct, followed by the North, South, East and Southwest Precincts.