By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
Richmond police started hitting the road in new cruisers this summer, replacing fleet vehicles that were seven to nine years old.
Chief Larry Brock said 14 of the cruisers – 2014 Ford Police Interceptors – are in regular use. The department has purchased 19 others that will be added to the fleet once they are equipped.
“Fully equipped, the marked police patrol units cost just under $30,000 each,” Brock said.
The RPD also has purchased seven unmarked vehicles for detectives, narcotics officers and administrative officers.
In November, the Richmond City Commission approved borrowing $1.2 million at 1.15 percent interest from U.S. Bancorp for five years to purchase 40 police cars.
Brock told the commission in November that the city had not purchased a new cruiser in three years, and 25 vehicles in the department’s fleet of 61 were nine years old. Several other police cruisers are seven to eight years old, he said.
Once all the new vehicles are in service, some of the older Crown Victorias will be retained as backups, a few kept for spare parts and the rest sold as surplus, Brock said.
Features of new cruisers
A few features were added to the Interceptors to enhance safety, Brock said. One of those was a built-in backup camera and defrosters for the side-view mirrors.
“It is difficult for officers in the marked units to see to the rear due to the protective screens that are installed in the vehicles for prisoner transport,” the chief said.
The Interceptors have all-wheel drive, and the officers already driving the cruisers have reported they handle much better than the old Crown Victorias, especially on wet roads.
“It is nearly impossible to lose traction in these new vehicles,” Brock said. “ Losing traction in wet conditions was a constant issue with Crown Victorias and resulted in more than one accident, but it seems that problem has gone away with these new cars.”
The in-car computers also are being replaced. Most of the computers the officers were using were nine and 10 years old, according to the chief.
“We are pleased with the new vehicles and certainly appreciate the support of the city and our citizens in upgrading our fleet,” Brock said.
Sarah Hogsed can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6694.