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Sep 23, 2009 12:55 PMPublication: The Southampton Press

Southampton Village replaces Crown Victorias with Chargers

Sep 23, 2009 12:55 PM

Southampton Village Police Department officers have been test driving a new ride, the Dodge Charger, for more than a year now and must soon decide whether to replace the rest of the department’s fleet of tried-and-true Ford Crown Victorias with the sportier squad cars.

The police department, which has four marked police cars and four unmarked cars, bought three Dodge Chargers in June 2008. Two of the Chargers are marked and one is unmarked.

The main reason for the switch, Village Police Chief Bill Wilson said, is that Ford is reportedly planning to discontinue the Crown Victoria that features a police package.

“We’ve used the Crown Vic for many years, but Ford has discussed doing away with the police package cruiser,” he said, adding that there are still two marked Crown Victoria patrol cars on the road and three unmarked detectives’ cars in operation. The department has to explore other patrol car options before the Crown Victoria is completely discontinued, which could happen as soon as 2012, according to the chief.

The department’s patrolmen have mixed feelings about the cars.

“I wouldn’t want to spend eight hours sitting in it,” said Detective George Ronan, who pointed out that he’s 6 feet 4 inches tall.

Officer Anthony Gallo, who actually does have to sit in the car for the entirety of his eight-hour shift, said that he too finds the Charger to be much smaller than the Crown Victoria. And it has more blind spots than the Crown Victoria, and has narrower windows and a smaller windshield than the traditional police car, he said.

On the other hand, the officers said they are enjoying the Chargers’ high-performance features, such as quicker acceleration, better handling and faster braking. The chief said he would not disclose the department’s policy regarding high-speed pursuits, but said the type of car they use has no bearing on it.

“With the Crown Victoria, it’s kind of like you’re driving down the street in your living room,” Officer Gallo said. “The Charger is more of a sports car.”

The department must decide which type of vehicle to purchase going forward by early 2010, the time when the village asks departments for budget requests. If the village orders police cars in the beginning of the year, the department will be able to put the cars into use by the summer.

Police patrol cars last for about 24 months, Chief Wilson said, and the Chargers, which were put into use about 16 months ago, will be ready for retirement by then.

Chief Wilson, who drives a department-issued Chevrolet Tahoe, said that he will defer to the department’s officers’ and sergeants’ opinions on which cars to buy. He noted that some officers find the car to be too small to accommodate the computers that have to be mounted in front of the dashboard. The equipment in the cars includes an automated ticket-writing system, a data terminal, a computer and barcode scanner, and a portable printer, Chief Wilson said, adding that most officers do dispatching and reporting from the vehicle.

“It’s basically a mobile office,” said Officer Christopher Wetter, who also rides in a patrol car for eight hours per day.

The Westhampton Beach Village Police Department is also considering making the switch to the Charger, Chief Raymond Dean said, “but ultimately it will come down to the price.”

The Dodge Charger is about $400 more than the Crown Victoria, Chief Wilson said. Both cars have a base price of approximately $22,000, but the cost of electronic equipment in the car inflates that to $28,000. The cost of all of the computer equipment runs around $6,000, Chief Wilson noted, adding that the cars typically come with lights and sirens.

The Quogue, East Hampton Village and Southampton Town Police departments all use Crown Victorias, according to the police dispatchers who answered the phones there.

The Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office added five Dodge Chargers to its fleet of 200 cars earlier this summer, according to Michael Sharkey, the chief of staff for the department. The department’s fleet is mainly made up of Crown Victorias, the standard patrol car.

“They seem to be performing well,” Chief Sharkey said of the Chargers. “There’s been no complaints regarding performance or service.”

He said that his department purchased five of the cars because of the Crown Victoria’s expected discontinuance.

“It’s prudent now to explore what options are out there so we’re prepared if the Crown Vic becomes not available,” he said.

In addition to the Crown Victorias and Chargers, Chevrolet Impalas are also often used as police cars, but several police officers said they’d prefer to stay away from them because they are even smaller than the Chargers.

Officer Gallo said that despite the officers’ opinions of the ins and outs of the Chargers, the cars have been warmly welcomed by the public.

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now the pd has a real police car 6.1 hemi 426 h.p.gonna b hard to out run but then you can't out run a radio he he
By pinga (90), hamptonbays on Sep 24, 09 10:43 AM
radio 186,000 ft per second, gotcha
By Middleman (16), east quogue on Sep 24, 09 1:08 PM
"The main reason for the switch, Village Police Chief Bill Wilson said, is that Ford is reportedly planning to discontinue the Crown Victoria that features a police package."

Really? Wilson is hedging with his language, there, and just wants some new toys for the boys.

Ford pretty much owns the law enforcement market with the "Police Interceptor," and in this economy -- especially as it has been effecting the auto industry -- it would fiducially irresponsible for Ford Motor Company ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Sep 25, 09 10:51 AM
3 members liked this comment
Man, the old Chevrolet Impalas of years gone past with the Corvette engine were the best. Oh, who by the way mentioned high speed pursuits? It's called, fleeing to avoid apprehension, in these litigious times.
By BruceB (142), Sag Harbor on Sep 25, 09 12:40 PM
muho compende frank actually they are out running on foot behind the church he he
By pinga (90), hamptonbays on Sep 25, 09 3:29 PM
Actually frank the crown Vic has been replaced by the taurus. Currently the crown vic is only offered to fleets and it is true that ford has talked about doing away with that model. That being said I don't see why these vehicle are only in service for 2 years. The crown Vic is an extremely durable vehicle and seeing as though in the village of Southampton these vehicles are well taken care of and also don't see hard use it seems like a waste of money to only use them for 2 years. I would agree with ...more
By local414 (10), southampton on Sep 25, 09 9:44 PM
1 member liked this comment
Well I knew it wouldn't be long until people started complaining.

Ford has annouced that they are planning on not making the crown vics anymore. Dodge has stepped up to the plate with the charger. Maybe if you all did a little research you would find that most police departments are moving over to the dodge chargers.

And FYI Frank, sitting inside the chargers actually is smaller and tighter than the crown vics. Im sure if you had to sit in a car for 8 hours at a time you would ...more
By courtesy (43), Southampton on Sep 26, 09 12:45 AM
Courtesy: "Ford has annouced that they are planning on not making the crown vics anymore. Dodge has stepped up to the plate with the charger. Maybe if you all did a little research you would find that most police departments are moving over to the dodge chargers."

I DID do some research on this, and find that while the Dodge Charger is garnering more of the law enforcement patrol market, Ford is NOT dropping the Crown Vic.

"And FYI Frank, sitting inside the chargers actually is ...more
By Frank Wheeler (1826), Northampton on Sep 28, 09 1:21 PM
No matter which type of car the village police use I really would like to see them issuing tickets to the reckless drivers who continue to turn into the 7-11 from the westbound lane, especially considering the equally reckless eastbound drivers who continue to run red lights there. Sadly, we know these are ingredients for disaster.
By SamIAm (36), hampton bays on Sep 26, 09 7:26 AM
It is well known that the charger is The standard replacement for the crown Vic. My point was that the crown vics should have a longer service life than 2 years. After that point then yes by all means buy the chargers. My issue isn't with buying the vehicles. It's with the service life in effect. Even the chargers should last more than 2 years. If that number was expanded to maybe 4 or 5 years we could save $28k per vehicle every 2 years.
By local414 (10), southampton on Sep 26, 09 8:47 AM
1 member liked this comment
I think the police should get Chevy Colbolts - i loved mine and it was great on gas.
Either that or the maybe they could get a Toyota Corolla. Go with something that's not too costly and will raise taxes.
By LovedHerTown (132), southampton on Sep 26, 09 2:28 PM
how about a smart car?
By asurest (117), easthampton on Sep 27, 09 4:04 AM
how about having some common sense??
By courtesy (43), Southampton on Sep 27, 09 3:05 PM
The town of Shelter Island actualy took a Camry they ceased from a DWI and converted it into a unmarked detective vehicle. Apparently that department was also asked to get more life out of thier patrol cars as well. I don't know how long they keep them but the patrol cars all seem to be Durangos. Its a small force over there I think.
By Ebby (75), Sag Harbor on Sep 27, 09 6:55 PM
186,000 miles per second , , not "feet"
radio travels at the speed of light..
or the Warp 1 :P
By nyredwine (4), southampton on Sep 27, 09 10:39 PM
wrong...... sound and light are 2 different things. Radio is a sound wave not a light wave. Sound travels at 343 meters per second or approx 768 mph and it is faster or slower depending on the medium is is traveling in. On the other hand, light travels at 3x10^8 meters per second or 186,000 miles per second. Right number wrong use. light is ridiculously faster than sound. soooo, in summation, go back to school.
By OrignialLocal (34), Southampton on Sep 30, 09 12:28 PM
actually now that I think about it radio waves aren't sound waves they are electromagnetic waves, still different than the speed of light.
By OrignialLocal (34), Southampton on Sep 30, 09 12:31 PM
Ford has been talking about discontinuing the Crown Vic for a number of years now. Police forces all over the country are testing out the charger. I've seen a few on the road in my neck of the woods.
By pstevens (406), Wilmington on Sep 28, 09 3:39 PM
Quick! Customer dispute at the Golden Pear! Says he got too much mayo on his ham sandwich!
By Mr Suffolk (113), Twin Forks on Sep 29, 09 2:28 PM
they need every cubic inch of those Hemi's to catch speeders doing 28 in a 25mph zone down Hill St!

Slow news day I guess
By politcal pawn (121), Flanders on Sep 29, 09 3:37 PM
I'll take one of those. I wouldn't be surprised if they got the idea from The Duke Boys. It's humorously ironic.
By RubyBaby (28), East Hampton on Oct 1, 09 8:04 AM