SAVANNAH, GA (Aug. 12, 2014): Police Chief Julie Tolbert began fulfilling her first promise to Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department officers recently when her department began replacing aging Crown Victoria police cars with the first of 91 Chevrolet Caprices.
The aging Ford Crown Vics, many with high mileage and rusty from a manufacturers’ paint failure, were the primary concern of officers in every precinct when Tolbert and acting interim Assistant Chief Terry Enoch visited every roll call and every non-patrol unit their first month on the job.
Metro had experimented with the Chevys and new Ford Interceptors, purchasing 10 each two years ago to determine which would best replace the Crown Vics that had become the signature of police cars. Ford ceased production of the Crown Vics in 2011.
The Chevys were a hands-down favorite of the officers. Metro also is adding 10 Chevrolet Tahoes for officers who need the larger vehicles. Both models are specifically designed for police work.
“We felt it was important that we not only provide these officers with new, more dependable equipment, but that we also listen to what they felt best served their purposes,” Tolbert said. “These vehicles are engineered strictly for police work and provide improved handling, enhanced safety, comfort, and convenience on the job. And the fact that we listened to their feedback is important. These officers spend eight to 12 hours in these cars each day.”
The new vehicles being replaced this yearare among a host of requests the interim administration has pushed in reaction to the initial discussions with officers. Other issues include returning the ranks of one-stripe Advanced Police Officer (APO), and two-stripe Corporal; replacement of Mobile Data Terminal (MDT) computers in cars; replacement radios; pay considerations and others.
The transition to the new vehicles brings some complexities. The cars employ front-wheel drive technology, which means less to casual drivers than to police officers who often respond to situations at higher speeds and can become involved in pursuits. So each officer will receive specific training on the Chevys before they are allowed to use them in service.
The training is specifically geared for this vehicle to familiarize the officers with the extensive new technology as well as the abilities they bring over the 1990 technology of the Crown Vics. Training ranges from the car’s Stabilitrak Electronic Stability Control System to behind-the-wheel training in the vehicle. Each officer will complete a ride-a-long with a EVOC Instructor prior to the practical exercise.
Besides the officers who drive them, the new cars also have drawn the praise of Metro’s training director Gary Taylor.
“There has not been a ‘police package’ vehicle designed and manufactured with this much technology that addresses safety, comfort, and convenience,” he said. “They are remarkable cars and an asset to this department.”
Advantages of the new cars range from column-mounted shifters that allow more room for equipment in the console area to the handling technology available only on police vehicles. The cars also include:
- Instrument panel and gauge cluster comes with an eight-inch touch-screen display which makes it easier for the driver to see
- Bluetooth2 streaming audio, cell-phone connectivity to vehicle audio system, along with voice recognition
- Crash Safety Features:
o High strength steel added to A-pillars for improvement in roof crush safety
o Extended safety belt receivers for easier buckling to address gun belts and equipment*
o Pelvic-thorax air bags for improved side-impact protection in a crash*
o Driver and front-passenger head side curtain air bags, and knee air bags
- Police calibrated StabiliTrak stability control system with police performance mode*
o To help maintain control in emergency response mode and adverse driving conditions*
- Electric Power Steering (EPS)*
- All-wheel, heavy duty disc brakes with the electronic anti-braking system (ABS)*
- Convenience/Comfort Options:*
o Remote keyless entry and remote vehicle start*
o Emergency mode electronics package, and theft-deterrent system.