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Police ready for transition as Crown Victoria production ends
Gainesville law enforcement looking at Caprice PPV
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Brandon Bowen, a patrol officer with the Gainesville Police Department, looks over paperwork Friday in his patrol car at the Public Safety Complex. Ford is discontinuing production of its Crown Victoria model. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

It's been shot at, rammed and on countless other adventures, but the Crown Victoria — an icon of police departments across the country — is now retiring.

Motorists will soon see those flashing blue lights in their rear view mirrors on a different vehicle, as the Crown Victoria rolled its final model off the assembly line Wednesday.

"We're kind of partial to the Crown Vic because it's rear-wheel drive; it's what we're used to," said Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks of the Hall County Sheriff's Office. "I think it's going to be kind of a hard transition for some officers, but nothing that we can't adapt to."

Unlike many other police departments that have already been using other vehicles, such as the Dodge Charger, Hall County deputies have continued to sport the traditional Crown Victoria.

The handling on the car has been praised by police departments, giving officers faith in the staple police cruiser.

"The difference between front-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive under high speeds or demanding driving conditions is going to require probably a little bit of retraining," Wilbanks said.

As far as motorists getting accustomed to an alternative police vehicle, Wilbanks said that could take some time for Hall County residents as well.

"Some of these other areas it's probably not going to be as noticeable, but I think here in Hall County it's been customary for so many years for the sheriff's office to drive Crown Victorias," Wilbanks said.

Capt. Chad White, fleet manager for the Gainesville Police Department, said despite the change, the patrol vehicle still carries the same meaning and shouldn't be seen as intimidating.

Wilbanks said the sheriff's office doesn't plan to replace vehicles anytime soon because of the county's budget deficit and hasn't decided which new model to switch to.

"We're just focusing primarily on maintenance and keeping our current fleet running," Wilbanks said.

In 2010, the sheriff's office used drug seizure funds to replace 16 vehicles, Wilbanks said.

The Gainesville Police Department, however, already has an idea for their next vehicle.

The department is considering the trendy Chevrolet Caprice PPV, which features a powerful 6.0 L V8 engine, White said.

The Caprice PPV is rear-wheel drive, which could make the transition easier for officers.

If the department were to go with the Caprice PPV, the biggest upgrade from the Crown Vic is more space, White said.

"What we are looking at has more interior room, which is important for an officer who will be in it for 12 hours," he said. "We also look for a vehicle with a large trunk. This is needed to store the required equipment."

Wilbanks said police vehicles require more power than a standard vehicle due to the amount of electrical equipment officers need.

"Most of the police fleet vehicles are equipped with high-amp alternators and heavy duty electrical systems, so that they'll handle that," he said.

 

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