Darien Police Dept. Prefers Ford, Not Chevy Patrol Cars

Dissatisfied with the four Chevrolet Caprice patrol cars bought last year, the Darien Police Department is proposing to buy five patrol vehicles based on the Ford Explorer for the upcoming fiscal year.

The four Chevrolet Caprices that the Darien Police Department bought last year have not exactly been the pride of the fleet, according to Police Chief Duane Lovello, and this year he'd like Ford Explorers instead.

"They have not been without their challenges," is the way Lovello describes the Caprices. One major challenge has been radiator hoses—the Caprices that are sold to police departments in the United States are made in Australia, and recently there haven't been any radiator hoses for that model available in the United States.

So for one of the patrol cars is "laid up for want of a radiator hose," Lovello explained at a Saturday budget meeting of the Darien Board of Selectmen. The department has asked for $213,995 to buy five Ford Interceptor models, which are essentially Ford Explorer models modified for use as police patrol cars.

The Caprice is a relatively small vehicle for a patrol car, but Darien has some patrol officers who are not relatively small—and when they're wearing their duty belts with various items of gear on, they're even wider around the waist, Lovello said. So in order to buckle up their seat belts, they've had to add seat belt extenders to the vehicles.

The cars sit relatively low to the ground, which also makes it more difficult for the officers to get in and out of the seats, he said. "It's a bit like sitting in a bucket."

The Ford Explorer, a sport utility vehicle, is bigger than the Caprice and has become popular with some law enforcement departments, including Massachusetts and the California Highway Patrol, Lovello said. "That's all they're going to buy in the future."

The Explorer also has all-wheel drive, which would allow for more driver control during bad weather, he said.

The department expects to retire two Ford Crown Victoria patrol cars after using them for three years, Lovello said. The trade-in value of the cars drops steeply from the second to the third year, he said, and while the department could get $6,000 to as much as $7,800 or so for a patrol car that's two years old, a three-year-old car might fetch only $1,500 in trade-in value, he said.

The department will hold on to individual cars that have very good repair records, he said. Sometimes, the department's cars have been repainted, had their police features removed and been repurposed to serving as vehicles for other town departments, such as the Planning and Zoning office.

Another important element in estimating a patrol car's useful life is the number of hours the engine is on—which is even better than mileage, Lovello said. That's because many patrol cars spend more time idling in place than driving the roads, he said.

max February 08, 2013 at 01:31 AM
Bill February 08, 2013 at 02:19 AM
The mpg is about 17 depending on weather conditions and the type of vehicle. The officers might like the Ford sedan as it is bigger than the Chevrolet, however, The explorer is definitely bigger than the two sedans. Both of the Fords have gotten power and fuel economy updates with the two new police vehicles.
Thomas Crafts February 08, 2013 at 01:08 PM
Why not Range Rovers? Doesn't Mercedes make an SUV? Any officer needing a seatbelt extender should be put on a balogna skin and water diet until they no longer need a seatbelt extender.
Siwanoy February 08, 2013 at 02:09 PM
Oh, sure, NOW they don't like the chevys, but before they purchased them (and while Ford was already starting to produce the crown vic police interceptor replacement) they said the Chevys would replace all the ford crown vic's the dept had within a number of years, and were touting the Chevys as the best thing since sliced bread, but now they want to switch it up. Its almost like they had never read about the problems other police depts. were having with the Chevys... which is inexusable. They also have atleast 2 undercover 2012 ford fusions, spend spend spend. David, remember a while back you mentioned you might be able to compile a list of how expensive these cars are? Were you able to find anything out? The light bars on top are around 2k, the automatic license plate readers at about 8k a piece (you see those funny looking cameras on the back of the cars.. and most have 2) I'm sure they recycle some police parts to the new cars, but I'm sure they take the opertunity to make sure they end up with top of the line everything in the new car as well. A simple way to think about it is, many of the state troopers still have strobe lights as their lightbar ontop of their car as opposed to LED's since they are super expensive. But here in Darien, we have the money to blow it year round on everything.
Bill February 08, 2013 at 02:14 PM
The Land Rover suv is now $93,000,second of all, Land Rover and Mercedes know they will lose money if they make a police vehicle. The Fords are much higher quality vehicles. Second of all, some of the officers are over 6ft tall, a seatbelt extender is needed if they cannot wear a seatbelt with their current heights.


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