LANCASTER- In the last two or three weeks, residents may have noticed that some Lancaster patrol cars have a totally new look, a fierce look. The Lancaster Police Department is slowly replacing a fleet of aging Crown Victoria Police Interceptors with brand new Dodge Chargers.
“We just want to make people aware we have new cars,” said Lancaster Capt. William Karn.” It is going to be a different look, but the same officers. We are switching over to a new make and model and different color scheme.”
Several suburban police departments are turning to the Charger Pursuit, which is made by Chrysler, as their next-generation cruiser.
The purchases are happening now because Ford, which long has dominated the U.S. police car business, stopped accepting orders for the popular Crown Victoria Police Interceptor last year.
The Lancaster Police Department has added five black-and-white Chargers to their fleet.
Capt. Karn said the 2013 Dodge Charger Pursuits are considered a special model and specifically made for law enforcement agencies.
After setting up a committee, lots of research, and test driving all the different types of cars, the Charger was the one that seemed to make the best sense, said Capt. Karn.
“It was cost effective and plus it is very responsive,” remarked Capt. Karn. “It is a good all around vehicle and it is more modern than the Crown Vics.”
He also mentioned that during his time working for Lancaster Police, which has been more than 15 years, the Crown Victoria’s have always been the car of choice.
“We get new cars every year, but these cars are different and they have a different color scheme,” remarked Capt. Karn. “We have had gray/silver forever. Our chief, Chief Gill, wanted to go with an old school type of look, very basic, and black and white.”
Karn made it clear that purchasing the Chargers was among the most economical choices compared to the Chevrolet Impala or Ford Taurus Turbo.
“Not only is it a nicer upgrade for the officers, but safer,” said Capt. Karn. “The vehicles are more modern, more nimble, handle better and are efficient.”
Residents will see both the Crown Victoria vehicles and Chargers on the streets of Lancaster for a while, said Capt. Karn. It will take time to replace the whole fleet, but once that is done, the old vehicles could serve as back up.
Officers who have trained in the new vehicles so far like the way they handle, including Lancaster Patrolman Bill Loewer.
“It’s more comfortable, faster, and handles better,” said Loewer.
Karn said the department had the option between aV-8 engine or a V-6 engine and after much deliberation the committee was unanimously in favor of the larger engine.
“Because the cars are usually in service 24/7 and get a heavy workload, frequent fast acceleration, etc., we felt more comfortable that the bigger engine would better stand up to the demands placed on it,” explained Capt. Karn.
The Charger Pursuit V-8 with its 5.7-liter HEMI V-8 engine produces 370 horsepower, 390 pound-feet of torque, and 0 to 60 mph in less than six seconds.
The vehicles are equipped with a LED emergency light bar and the drive system delivers all-weather traction. Its active transfer case and front-axle-disconnect system automatically enables all wheel drive for slick conditions, while maintaining the performance and handling usually found in a rear-wheel-drive vehicle.
Also officers will have both weapons- shotgun and rifle- which is used if there is an active shooter situation, readily accessible in the front of the vehicle. In the Crown Victoria’s only the shotgun was located in the front of the vehicle. In order to gain access to the rifle, an officer had to get out of the vehicle, pop the trunk, and put a combination in and half the time it wouldn’t work the first time around, because it is very particular, said Loewer.
To save costs, the computer systems and radios were transferred over from the older vehicles, but due to different dimensions of the new vehicles, the vehicles had to be outfitted with new cages.
“If you have to turn the vehicle around and pull someone over you get up to that speed quicker so it’s less time at an accelerated rate. Your turn is more efficient, fuel wise and there is less wear and tear on the vehicle,” remarked Loewer.