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The Chicago Police Department will quadruple its fleet of gas-guzzling Chevrolet Tahoe SUVs this year -- to more than 200 -- under a contract in the works sure to please Supt. Jody Weis.
Weis has argued that the police department's fleet -- 36 SUVs and 2,753 sedans -- is in "horrible" condition and that SUVs make more sense to get through Chicago's winters.
The average beat car is 2.6 years old and has 50,622 miles on it. The average unmarked vehicle is 2.9 years old with 41,285 miles.
Many might think that buying 165 more SUVs this year doesn't seem like the wisest move at a time when gas prices have been going through the roof.
But Fleet Management spokeswoman Eileen Joyce noted that the Tahoe gets 14 mpg, the same as the Ford Crown Victoria. The Chevrolet Impala gets 17 mpg. All but 285 of Chicago's police sedans are Crown Vics.
"The Michigan State Police totally changed over to SUVs. There's been a trend among first responders to move from sedans to SUVs to evaluate their effectiveness in emergency situations," Joyce said.
"Over the past two years, we've ordered 935 sedans. We're just trying to mix up the newer fleet, similar to the industry standard."
Fraternal Order of Police President Mark Donahue said he views SUVs as a mixed bag.
"In some cases, it'll be an advantage. In other cases -- when you're patrolling side streets and tight spots -- it may be cumbersome to maneuver," Donahue said.
The Daley administration has issued a "request for proposals" for the purchase of up to 1,500 police SUVs and 2,000 sedans over a three-year period. The city expects to buy 165 SUVs under that contract this year with funding from an equipment note tied to Mayor Daley's 2008 budget. No sedan purchase is planned.
In February 2006, Daley took the wraps off an $85,000 Chevy Tahoe he hoped would someday replace all 3,000 Chicago Police squad cars.
The vehicle was equipped with two rooftop cameras capable of scanning the license plates of up to 3,600 parked or moving vehicles an hour. It had a night-vision camera to hunt down suspects in hiding, a portable computer capable of accessing crime databases and a wireless microphone to record suspect interviews.

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Tahoe = 202 inches long and 79 inches wide - not sure if this includes mirrors or not.

Crown Vic = 212 inches long 78.3 inches wide.

I was bored so I looked up the numbers. Pretty interesting considering how much more the Tahoe weighs - I was going to say that EPA estimates are far higher than what any police car would see in actual duty use.
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