COLUMBIA— The MU Police Department has debuted four new all-wheel drive vehicles as local police agencies transition away from Ford Crown Victorias.
Campus police are exchanging Crown Victorias, which are going out of production, for sedan and SUV models of the 2013 Ford Police Interceptors.
The Boone County Sheriff's Department is also testing the Police Interceptors along with models from other auto makers as it evaluates replacement options for its Crown Victoria. The Columbia Police Department is switching out its Crown Victoria fleet with Chevrolet Tahoes.
The Police Interceptors hit the market in January. The SUV comes with a 3.7 liter V-6 engine similar to a Ford Explorer; the 3.5 liter V-6 sedan is similar to the Ford Taurus, said Kelly Sells, fleet manager at Joe Machens Ford Lincoln in Columbia.
The Police Interceptor has 20 percent better fuel economy than the Crown Victoria and a five-year, 100,000-mile warranty on the power train, Sells said.
The SUV obtains about the same gas mileage as the sedan, Sells said.
The Police Interceptor offers two types of sedans, the V-6 and the V-6 ecoboost twin turbo. Sells said the twin turbo charger lets air get into an engine, spins the air and forces it into the engine.
"The engine burns cleaner, produces more horsepower," Sells said.
The twin turbo sedan tops out at 148 mph, and Sells said it's "the fastest police vehicle available."
The SUV and the V-6 sedan without twin turbo have the same top speed as the Crown Victoria at 131 mph, Sells said.
Deciding on the Interceptor: MU police
MU police has four of the Interceptors — two white SUVs and two white sedans — on the road and plans to use them to replace a few cars every few years, Capt. Brian Weimer said.
Weimer, who has been working for MU police for 20 years, said the fleet has always had a Ford.
MU police looked at other companies and decided the Police Interceptor was the best option, Weimer said.
MU police picked all-wheel drive for its twin turbo sedan and SUV because it is the best with all environments and will be better for driving in snow and off-road terrain, Weimer said.
"Five inches of snow makes most police vehicles obsolete," Sells said. He said other vehicles like the Dodge Charger, Chevy Caprice and Chevy Tahoe don't have all-wheel drive and don't work as well in tough weather conditions.
Capt. Chad Martin of the Boone County Sheriff's Department said the department started testing out one sedan Police Interceptor in mid-October.
Martin said the department owns two SUVs and three sedans that are being outfitted with police equipment. The department is testing both the V-6 sedan and the twin turbo.
The Sheriff's Department found out a few years ago that Ford was going to update its Crown Victoria, Martin said. He said deputies have also been testing Dodge Chargers, Chevy Tahoes and Chevy Caprices.
All the vehicles the Boone County Sheriff's Department are testing are better than the Crown Victoria in different ways, Martin said. The Crown Victoria is "not all-purpose built as these vehicles are," he said.
He said this is the final year of evaluation of new vehicles and the department hasn't decided which brand or vehicle it will choose to begin replacing its fleet of 46 marked vehicles.
The vehicles are rotated so different drivers have different opportunities for evaluation, Martin said.
The Sheriff's Department had an all Ford fleet before and the department wants to replace a few a year starting in 2013 when it decides what vehicle is best for the fleet, he said.
Columbia Police Department
The Columbia Police Department is in the process of updating its 52-vehicle fleet from the Crown Victoria to the Chevy Tahoe.
The police department has purchased 19 Tahoes from Don Brown Chevrolet in St. Louis, two of which are in the DWI unit, and the rest of the 17 in the patrol unit, Rob Millard, fleet manager of Columbia Police Department, said.
In 2010, the police department started this transition to the rear-wheel drive Tahoe.
The city requires the police department to replace its vehicles after 10 years of use or when the vehicles accumulate 100,000 miles.
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