Thursday, February 21, 2008

New Dodge Chargers will prowl the streets of Pendleton

By Gwen Strough

Pendleton Police Department has been turning heads ever since the newly-received fleet of 2008 vehicles (six Dodge Chargers and a Dodge Magnum) hit the streets a couple of weeks ago. The vehicles have a modern look and are loaded with important features. “I hate to say that people are stopping us more than we’re stopping them,” laughed Chief Marc Farrer. “But we’re excited that people are noticing the new cars.”

Equipped with the Dodge Hemi 5.7 liter, V-8 engine and 18-inch rims, each vehicle has an onboard electronic stability program. “The ESP feature assists the driver in compensating for loose surface material, such as snow, ice and gravel, and assists in not ‘overdriving’ the vehicle,” stated Farrer. “It is a remarkable piece of technology, in my opinion,” he added.

Farrer said the new police cars have VHF and 800 MHz radios, digital scanners, Gateway laptop computers on mounts, stationary and moving radar, Mossberg 590A shotguns in mounts, Bushmaster AR-15 rifles, first aid kits, and automated external defibrillators.

The push bumper mounted on the front of the Chargers has several uses. It prevents damage to the front bumper and prevents air bag deployment under slight impacts. It also can be used aggressively to pin a fleeing vehicle or push a suspect vehicle, if necessary.

The familiar certified light bars from the past are on the new vehicles. Farrer noted that the lights make police vehicles more visible while operating in heavy downtown traffic.

According to town policy, the average life of PPD vehicles is four to five years, depending on the length of the warranty period.

Before new cars were ordered, Farrer and Captain Randy Sidwell did their homework, which included studying the paperwork from Michigan State Police Department where police cars are tested. They also traveled to a police expe in Kentucky and met with Dodge company representatives. In addition, they spoke with Chesterfield Police Chief Jamie Kim, whose department has driven Chargers for the past few years. Farrer said Kim expressed that CPD is pleased with the cars’ performance.

Madison County Sheriff’s Department has a Charger in their fleet and reportedly has ordered two more.

Farrer gave credit to Sidwell for keeping costs down. “He did an exceptional job, and squeezed the best price out of every vendor used for the completion of this project,” said Farrer. “Had he not worked as diligently as he did, we would probably not have been able to afford a lot of what you see in the new vehicles,” he explained.

Purchased through Kahlo Chrysler, Jeep and Dodge in Noblesville, the Chargers cost $21,969 each and the Magnum cost $23,277. Seven vehicles from the old fleet were sold to the Madison County Coroner, Madison County Emergency Management and the City of Elwood. Monies from those sales were added to existing money in the police budget to help fund the new fleet.

“I would like to point out that when Bill Hill was chief, he saw the need for a special utility vehicle and requested approximately $35,000 for a crime scene vehicle, but monies just were not available at the time. We have been fortunate to fill that need with the Magnum and save thousands of dollars,” commented Farrer.

The Magnum was issued to officer Stan Brown, who is currently trained in crime scene investigation. Farrer said the car provides the extra room needed for the specialized equipment Brown utilizes in processing a crime scene. Additionally, the special utility vehicle has the capability of a safe patrol vehicle.

Farrer commented that the police car market is evolving, and said Ford provided the only full-sized “police package” vehicle since Chevrolet discontinued building the Caprice.

“Chevrolet provided the Impala as an alternative, but in my opinion, it in no way can be described as a full-size police package vehicle. I wanted the department to have cars that could carry all the equipment that we have, provide ample room for comfort, provide specific safety features, and meet the pricing standards needed. We were able to meet each of those needs with the Dodge Charger,” said Farrer.

Detailing of the new vehicles was handled locally by Sign Age. Flat black stickers provide a retro look with a modern flare. The “Super Bee” emblem was removed and replaced with the town logo, which depicts Falls Park, as well as denoting that Pendleton is a National Historic Register Community. The hood sticker is a radical alteration of the full painted hood available on past and current Chargers. The word ‘Hemi’ was replaced with ‘Police’ to provide additional visibility as an official police car.

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