By: Michael Campbell, News Editor
Appeared In: August 30, 2017 edition
PRINCE GEORGE – Soon, Prince George Police will have several new vehicles as part of their fleet after supervisors approved an appropriation to move forward with the purchases.
In total, $400,000 in funding was approved to cover the purchase of four Ford Interceptor sedans, based on Ford’s passenger sedan Taurus, and six Ford Interceptor sport utility vehicles, law enforcement variants of Ford’s popular Explorer line of SUVs, for the Prince George Police Department.
The funding for the purchases was part of the county’s spring borrowing that saw Prince George issue $10 million in general obligation bonds to help pay for several projects across the county, ranging from broadband expansion, parks, and recreation expenses, and reimbursement of costs following a pipe failure at the Central Wellness Center earlier this year, among others.
Leading up the board’s action to move forward with the appropriation, Prince George’s Director of Finance Betsy Drewry worked with Police Chief Keith Early and his staff to develop recommendations on vehicles and to determine a schedule for replacing vehicles in the department’s fleet.
According to Drewry, this is year three of a cyclical replacement of police vehicles for the department where there can purchase vehicles in a large number, borrow the funds in the short-term and repay that debt over time.
Through the police department and county’s analysis, a total of ten vehicles were identified for replacement as part of this purchase. According to county documents, of the ten vehicles, five each were either Dodge Charger police cruisers between the 2007 and 2011 model years and Ford Crown Victorias with model years between 2006 and 2008.
The ten vehicles slated for replacement have all seen significant use along Prince George’s roads according to county data, with total mileage on the individual squad cars ranging between 90,000 to as much as 204,000.
The ten vehicles, which have a combined surplus value of $19,400, combine for over one million miles of total mileage, according to the county’s records.
Drewry noted that the vehicles will be purchased through state contract pricing and that there will be additional costs related to the equipment and decals to be affixed on the vehicles.
Through state pricing, each Ford Interceptor sedan would cost the county $26,904, while the Interceptor SUV would cost $29,980 each, with another $10,450 per vehicle being spent on equipment and various decal work, for a total cost of $391,996, well within the earmarked funding for the new vehicles through the spring borrowing.
In an interview, Early discussed why the department opted to purchase a fleet of Fords over other manufacturers in the police cruiser market, such as FiatChrysler and Dodge and General Motors and Chevrolet.
“Our officers like the Fords, they’re reasonably priced, and they carry good ratings,” Early remarked. “Both of these models are all-wheel drive and they perform very well for the officers in any type of weather. It’s very responsive.”
Among the purchases, Prince George will be purchasing four of the Interceptor SUV units as the county matches recent trends in the police automobile industry as more departments are turning to the SUVs over their sedan counterparts.
According to a report from USA Today, sales of the Interceptor SUV have crossed the 50 percent market share threshold for the first time since 2012, citing data from Ford and IHS Markit.
“We projected that the Police Interceptor sedan was going to be roughly 75% of our mix. It flip-flopped and the SUV is 75% of our mix,” Stephen Tyler, Ford’s police brand marketing manager, told USA Today in June.
For Early, the SUV’s appeal goes beyond market trends as he notes the vehicle’s strong suit; room for officers.
“The SUVs give the officers a lot of room for their equipment and to give them the personal space they need,” he said. “We have the laptop computers mounted in the cars and other police gear, so it makes the SUVs very popular with the roominess inside and the storage options at the rear of the vehicle.”
As part of the $400,000 purchase, the county plans to reimburse itself during the next bond issuance sometime in the first quarter of 2018.
Funding for two vehicles for the Prince George Sheriff’s Office has already been financed through the FY2017-2018 operating budget to buy two SUV-style vehicles for the department, county documents confirm.