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Loss of Police Interceptor Poses Challenges

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Rob Rothwell
Now that Ford has discontinued the venerable Crown Victoria, police departments throughout North America are scrambling to adapt their sedan needs to more modern replacements. The Ford Taurus, Dodge Charger and Chevy Caprice are in a three-way race to be the prodigious cruiser.

Police agencies have known for a few years now that Ford intended to scuttle the Crown Victoria, which includes the Police Interceptor version that has been the near-exclusive choice of police services north and south of the 49th.

Many police agencies went on a Police Interceptor buying spree in order to postpone the expense of switching to revised American muscle. With a stockpile of new Interceptors tucked carefully away, these agencies are able to roll out fresh ones as needed over the next several years — so don’t expect to see a sudden departure of the gigantic sleds anytime soon.

2003 Ford Crown Victoria Police front 3/4 view
2003 Ford Crown Victoria (Photo: Ford)

In addition to salting away police cruisers for future usage, many metropolitan agencies have a warehouse full of spare Crown Victoria parts to keep them running and road-worthy. These include new components and important items cannibalized from decommissioned cruisers.

Having to adapt to a new make/model of cop car is rife with expense and headaches. The inventory of spare parts becomes nothing more than elaborate paperweights while the light bars, equipment consoles, rear cages and numerous other expensive bits and pieces become obsolete by not fitting into any of the three contenders.

Not only does everything require re-engineering to facilitate the chosen replacement, the new cars pose additional challenges, such as front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive formats, poorer visibility and in some cases less occupant room and cargo capacity.

Bashing over curbs with front-wheel drive configurations can be extremely costly. Placing two large officers shoulder-to-shoulder with a computer and other gear positioned in-between can also be problematic.

Finally, boxing and pinning techniques applied to suspect vehicles in an effort to prevent high-speed car chases require weight and substance for success. Smaller, lighter cars may not be as effective at containing a large vehicle driven by a crook with no intention of making new friends behind bars.

All of these issues and irritations will take time, money and testing to resolve as police agencies transition to new wheels for their patrol resources. It’s not as simple as trading in the family sedan at Shady Motors and driving out with something shiny and new.

Rob Rothwell
Rob Rothwell
Automotive expert