March 29, 1998 in Nation/World

Cops Pick Crown Vic Ford Become Top Supplier Of High-Powered Vehicles For Police Departments

John Hughes Associated Press S Adam Lynn And Luke Staff writer
 

Are the police on your tail? These days it probably means a Ford is following you.

The No. 2 automaker rules the police car market, thanks to the bulky Crown Victoria, which has nearly doubled its law enforcement sales in the last four years and by itself accounts for about 85 percent of new police vehicle sales.

Police like that the Vic is roomy, easy to handle and durable. “You can do just about anything with it and it’s not going to get away from you,” says Sgt. Casey Cronin of the California Highway Patrol.

But there’s another reason the Vic is king: Police have few other choices. Ford is alone among the Big Three in making the spacious, rear-wheel-drive land yachts that police have preferred since well before “Dragnet” was on television.

Police like such cars for their balance, controlled turning and powerful acceleration.

Chrysler Corp. hasn’t made big rear-wheel-drive police cars since the late 1980s, when it stopped production of the Plymouth Grand Fury and Dodge Diplomat.

General Motors Corp. stopped making a police favorite, the Chevrolet Caprice, in 1996.

“A lot of people (police) were very upset when they heard about the demise of the Caprice,” says Jack Gray, superintendent of fleet services for the Village of Elk Grove near Chicago. “We certainly would like to have more choices.”

Still, the Caprice isn’t going quietly. Police agencies from Oregon to Maine are sending their old Caprices to Lansing, Mich., where workers replace the engine, transmission, suspension and rear axles, among other things. Shaheen Chevrolet has done more than 1,300 cars since 1996.

The Ford Crown Victoria is the car of choice with the Spokane sheriff’s and police departments.

Both agencies use the “Crown Vic” exclusively for their prowl cars, and most detectives and administrators also drive them.

“That’s all we’ve driven, except for two years when we got stuck with Chevys, since about 1983,” said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Reagan.

Each Spokane department maintains about 70 Crown Victorias.

The Kootenai County Sheriff’s Department used to switch between Chevy Caprices and Crown Victorias, whichever model won the annual bid, said Capt. Ben Wolfinger. Now, they have picked up on the national trend, with 36 of 40 patrol vehicles bearing the Ford emblem. Four Chevy Blazers are used primarily in remote areas, Wolfinger said.

Coeur d’Alene police have a wider variety of cars, with 15 Crown Victorias, three Ford Taurus, seven Chevy Luminas, three Chevy Corsicas, a Ford pickup, and a van used for DARE programs.

Idaho State Police are almost split down the middle. In a fleet of 37 cars in North Idaho, 17 are Caprices, 15 are Crown Victorias, with four Chevy Suburbans and one Ford Bronco, said Lt. Doug Camster.

“That’s your office, so it really has to be practical,” Wolfinger said. “You can’t have something with seats that are going to hurt your back.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story:

Police vehicle sales

1997 sales of police vehicles:

55,100 Crown Victoria

5,500 Chevrolet Lumina

2,500 Ford Expedition

2,500 Ford Explorer

1,000 Chrysler Jeep Cherokee

200 Chevrolet Camaro

66,800 Total

Sources: GM, Ford, Chrysler.

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = John Hughes Associated Press

Staff writers Adam Lynn and Luke Timmerman contributed to this report.

This sidebar appeared with the story: Police vehicle sales 1997 sales of police vehicles: 55,100 Crown Victoria 5,500 Chevrolet Lumina 2,500 Ford Expedition 2,500 Ford Explorer 1,000 Chrysler Jeep Cherokee 200 Chevrolet Camaro 66,800 Total Sources: GM, Ford, Chrysler.

The following fields overflowed: BYLINE = John Hughes Associated Press Staff writers Adam Lynn and Luke Timmerman contributed to this report.


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