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Wanted: National police car
(Original publication: December 26, 2004)






It is a sad situation that speaks of incompetence and profit seeking
when police cars have to be retrofitted to save officers' lives. But
that's what's been happening with the Ford Crown Victoria in
Rockland and elsewhere.

The Crown Vic is the police vehicle of choice, mostly because it has
no present competition from other manufacturers, though Chrysler is
said to be considering a model. Chevrolet produces a smaller police
car used in New York City.

The Crown Vic, called the "police interceptor," is by poor and
incomplete design susceptible to gas tank explosions during rear-end
collisions at speeds topping 50 mph. About 20 officers, including a
state trooper from Pearl River, have died during an estimated 29
post-crash explosions in recent years across the nation.

As reported by Journal News staff writer Steve Lieberman, the Ford
Motor Co., which supplies the police cruiser to 85 percent of the
nation's police departments, has retrofitted 350,000 Crown Vics with
fuel tank shields "free," though the plain fact is that Ford caused
the danger in the first place.

However, many police officials and union leaders think the shields
are not sufficient protection, including Brent Newbury, Orangetown
PBA head. Newbury, an Orangetown patrol officer, reports that the
union in January helped secure a $30,000 state grant for extended
protection, to be disbursed to Rockland's 11 police departments: "We
felt the shields weren't enough and wanted fire-retardant devices
installed."

Orangetown is finally installing the protection in more than 100
patrol cars with a $13,000 grant after a police administrative error
wasted the opportunity to use the previous funding. The device is a
plastic panel filled with a fire-retardant powder. It is installed
between the fuel tank and the rear axle, and in a rear-end
collision, impact releases the powder to prevent an explosion and
fire.

Similar equipment has been used on military aircraft and race cars
for years, and that raises the question: If one manufacturer can
supply 85 percent of the nation's police cars, why isn't it required
by specification to treat it like a "race car," which is what is
implied by the "police interceptor" label? That would mean more
safety features and better handling.

Actually, the nation's police chiefs and the PBAs across the land
should ask Consumer Reports or some other independent group to test
any model offered for sale as a police vehicle.

The Crown Vic is still ordered these days, despite the fuel tank
history and a dangerous mechanical flaw some years back when the
power steering would cut out on sharp turns. That killed a Paramus,
N.J., officer.

We have suggested a national police vehicle designed to
specification, with input from vehicle safety experts. The Crown
Vic, just like the big Chevy, Chrysler and Pontiac sedans before it,
are living rooms on wheels modified with heftier engines and stiffer
suspensions. They are not the most maneuverable, comfortable or safe
vehicles. They are truly not "police interceptors."

Surely a nation that buys thousands of police vehicles yearly can
specify a unique police car. That's the way military vehicles are
procured, right?

As for the delay in Orangetown, while the Town Board agreed to
install the devices back in June, the Police Department never
followed up on the approval. Police Chief Kevin Nulty says he
ultimately is responsible for the fire-extinguishing devices not
being purchased. He notes the department has now moved quickly to
install the Ford gas tank shields.

"We dropped the ball on the fire-retardant devices," he says. "I
think we wanted to make sure the devices weren't put on older cars
we were planning to get rid of, and somewhere along the line, the
project fell through the cracks."

The department realized its error a month ago when a patrol car was
rear-ended. The gas tank didn't explode, but it again raised the
issue. The mistake could have been costly, but the chief has
admitted his mistake.

Nulty did contact state Sen. Thomas Morahan, R-New City, who
obtained the $13,000 needed for the added protection. Thank you,
senator.

But, again, the retrofits should not have been necessary. Police
departments have been motorized for almost a century. Providing them
with safe, properly designed wheels should be a priority.


(Edited previous post was about MP3's) - Thanks. Greg
 

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Isn't the "smaller police car used in NYC" they refer to in that article none other then the Chevy Impala? You know what, the article is right, we should all petition our departments to replace the Crown Vics with, oh, I dunno, Kia Rios?
:lol: :cry: :lol:
 

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Has anyone here experienced a Chevy Impala as an on-duty Police Vehicle? If so, what's your opinion?

A friend in a Federal (DoD Police - Army) department, said they ONLY use Impala's and he actually likes them.
 

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RPD931";p="51066 said:
Has anyone here experienced a Chevy Impala as an on-duty Police Vehicle? If so, what's your opinion?

A friend in a Federal (DoD Police - Army) department, said they ONLY use Impala's and he actually likes them.
I haven't used an Impala on the job, but between my own Impala (police package) and the Crown Vic on the job...I personally feel that the seats in the Impala are much more comfortable (and offers much more support, especially in the sides), the controls are a little more ergonomic, the suspension is far better, it handles better in the snow, and it has enough get-up-and-go when you need it. I also get a better 'cockpit' feel than in the CV in relation to the pedals, the wheel, and all the controls.

Of course, the CV was an older model (2000, I believe) that didn't have the independent rear suspension and a plethora of other upgrades that Ford probably dumped into it in 2003 (and now later) years. I'm also a fan of the trunk being more 'stretched out' than the 'cavernous hole' feeling I get with the trunk of a CV. Plus, having the gas tank slung underneath the trunk instead of 'in' it is nice. I don't have to worry about my tools or my pry bar punching a hole in my gas tank in the event I get rear-ended in traffic.

Something else with the trunk of the Impala...unless you have the full-size spare, your spare is going to be 'under' the floor of the trunk...which means you would have to empty out a nice chunk of the trunk to change a tire out. However, the one time I had to change a tire on a CV, I would have much rather preferred to do that than monkey around for half an hour in the cold just trying to get the damn spare tire off it's bracket above the fuel tank.

I used to have a Mustang as well (with the 'same' displacement 3.8L V6, although Chevy somehow has a 231CID and the Ford has a 232CID, go figure), and I like my Impala better. Much more spacious (although only being an inch or two wider), more headroom, much larger trunk, more get up and go, and even more fun to drive than my Mustang was.
 
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