February 23, 2012

Have you ever wondered how a police agency chooses their police vehicle? The answers vary and obviously depend on the needs of the agency regarding the type of service delivery and geographical terrain that they routinely patrol in. Price, functionality, style, performance, and appearance are also some of the weighted factors taken into consideration.

While the Kentucky State Police utilize several different types of specialty vehicles, arguably none are more recognizable by the citizens of our state than the familiar gray marked cruiser with the blue bar light. Although we have driven the Ford Crown Victoria for many years, 2012 will reveal a somewhat different look. Last year, Ford announced that it would discontinue the Crown Victoria police package and replace it with the new Ford Police Interceptor.

After establishing a committee comprised of troopers, trainers, mechanics and researchers, each of the three police vehicle packages offered by Ford, Chevrolet, and Chrysler were studied over a several month period. Each vehicle was test driven in a variety of conditions on a controlled test track. Although each of the products tested had numerous attributes, it was determined that the Chevrolet Caprice police package would be the choice for purchase in the 2012 calendar year. It was also revealed early in the process that the Ford Interceptor would not go into production until late April, much too late to meet our needs for this year.

State statutes mandate that vehicles be put out on a bidding process with specifics regarding upgrades and features. Ultimately, an established dealer is awarded the contract for a specific type of car(s) for an agency within state government to purchase. After this process, the actual purchase takes place and delivery is received several weeks later. Ultimately, the arduous task of installing blue lights, sirens, switch boxes; protective screens, mobile data computer mounts and striping packages take place. These functions take place in our Frankfort central garage by some very talented technicians and mechanics. This can take as much as a day or two per vehicle and adds an additional cost of $12,920 to each car if none of the parts are recycled from surplus vehicles.

Although it’s hard to believe, the Kentucky State Police averages driving nearly two and a half million miles per month while patrolling the roadways of the Commonwealth. We continue to be as frugal as possible in purchasing patrol vehicles, while keeping in mind the importance of officer safety and the need for an emergency response to protect the public we serve.