With the last Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor rolling off the Ford assembly line in September, police departments across the nation are scrambling to find a suitable replacement for the popular V-8 powered rear-wheel-drive vehicle.
Chief William Wiegman, is currently looking for a patrol vehicle to replace the township’s Crown Victorias.
“The end of the Crown Victoria has left us wondering what our next car will be,” the chief said.
The Lower Southampton Police Department which is staffed by 35 officers and maintains a fleet of 20 police vehicles -- many of them being Crown Victorias.
“It seems like the end of an era,” Wiegman said about the end of the the Crown Vic, as they are known.
Ford, which has had a lock on the police car market for years will be introducing a new police vehicle come early 2012.
The 2012 Ford Police Interceptor is based on the civilian Ford Taurus. Ford has boasted to law enforcement agencies the new vehicle has many new safety features and employed police officers to help design the car, which features a V-6 engine, that excerts the same power has the Crown Vics V-8 did.
Chief Wiegman, a 38-year veteran of the police department, said he test drove the new Ford Police Interceptor and was not too impressed.
“The new Ford dosn’t have enough room for the officers,” he said. Once radios and gun racks are installed in the car he believes the patrol officers, who don bulky bulletproof vest and gun belts, will not be able to have enough room to function.
The chief said the Department, which has until spring 2012 to choose a patrol car, is also looking at the new Chevrolet Caprice Police Patrol Vehicle and Chrysler's Dodge Charger.
The Department is also deciding if it wants to go with the redesigned Ford Police Interceptor SUV, similar to the new Explorer, or go with another SUV like the Chevy Tahoe to replace its aging utility vehicles.
Wiegman said the Department’s vehicles only last a few years because of the demands put on them by everyday policing. It is not uncommon for a patrol vehicle to rack up 80,000 miles in one year, the chief said.
Lower Southampton purchases its cars at a discount along with Northampton and . The department is budgeted to receive about two cars every year but due to grant money they have received a few extra vehicles recently, including several police vans.