Transitioning from sedans to SUVs keeps officers safer on patrol

SUV's provide even more benefits like greater fuel economy and safety features


By Michael Cayes

Mooring Tech, Inc.

This article is provided by Mooring Tech, Inc. and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of PoliceOne.

The last generation of Crown Victoria squad cars rolled off assembly lines in 2012. By that time, many departments had already begun phasing in new models of vehicles for use in the field. What these departments have found in the years since is that SUV’s provide even more benefits than they expected, including greater fuel economy and some unexpected advanced safety features.

The aesthetic appeal of the SUV over the standard patrol sedan is clear. They ride higher, allowing officers to see more of what is happening around them. The internal space means a more comfortable ride, which is significant for men and women required to wear bulky utility belts and equipment for the duration of their shift. In crash safety tests, having the extra space even with all of that equipment can reduce the frequency and severity of sustained injuries. And for specialized units, like K-9 or narcotics who frequently need to carry extra equipment when they go out on calls, the added, and easily accessible cargo space is invaluable. Though it would be a stretch to say that this a real motivating factor for most departments, it is worth noting that more spacious backseats are a nice benefit for transported prisoners.

In addition to these physical features, departments have to consider vehicle cost, both for the initial purchase price and police-standard modifications, and operating costs such as maintenance and fuel. The tag on a new SUV with necessary modifications can run anywhere from $25,000 to $35,000-much higher than a sedan, but with the caveat that the resale value at 100,000 miles, the standard point of replacement, will be much higher. During the time that the vehicle is in use, the Ford Motor Company has calculated that taxpayers save thousands of dollars due to an engine that is 35% more efficient than that of the old Crown Vics. Ford’s exact projection was that “a government agency with 100 vehicles would save taxpayers $153,300 per year with gasoline prices at $4 per gallon, if the vehicle idled for 3 hours per day for two shifts.” Now that the majority of vehicles are equipped with mounted computers or tablets, officers spend more time in their vehicles filling out reports and checking in with dispatch or other officers out on patrol. MPG considerations aside, all of that time spent with the vehicle on and idling mean more fuel stops than the average motorist.

For Chevrolet, the most compelling selling-point is the way the new model Tahoes handle on the road. When the Roseville Police Department in Northern California was evaluating vehicles, they observed that the Tahoe is equipped with a top of the line automatic braking system that will automatically stabilize one or more wheels to avoid rollovers. The Tahoe also features a backup camera, and Bluetooth connectivity to accommodate some of the many gadgets officers use each shift. The Crown Victoria is an iconic figure in police and pop culture, but moving forward, departments look to investing in safer and comfortable models for their employees.

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