Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Officer? ...does that have a Hemi?

My driving record may not bear this out but I think most people that drive a lot get pretty good at spotting speed traps and unmarked traffic cops for one simple reason:

They are all in Ford "Crown Vics" with Police Interceptor packages; unmistakable shape; wider tires; blacked-out grille; hunkered down. Eighty per cent of Squad Car purchases go to Ford.

When Chevrolet halted production of full-sized rear wheel drive vehicles, upon which their law-eforcement offering was based, they effectively left Ford Motor Company with a monopoly.

Until recently.

"The most important thing for law enforcement," says Halliday, "is you gotta build 'em tough. I can't tell you how many times we get a 'tough' new piece of equipment, and in 10 minutes the officer is back, saying, 'Uh, I broke it.' You want heavy-duty cooling, brakes, electrical. Also important is good room and comfort. In the 1970s, a typical police car had a siren-control head, a radio microphone, and a dome-light switch. Today, you have computers, printers, dual-antenna radars, video cameras, six-cup coffee maker, the whole nine yards. And when an officer is spending an eight-hour shift behind the wheel, repeatedly getting in and out of the vehicle, well, if he isn't comfortable it's going to have a pretty dramatic effect on morale."

Coffee maker? Nice. Bottom line: rear-drive body-on-frame = tough. Unibody Front driver? I don't think so.

Conversions of front-drive Chevrolet Impalas and rear-drive Tahoe's have reportedly left most law enforcement officials, save NYPD, unconvinced of GM's commitment to the segment. Chrysler however, with the rear-drive, roomy and optional Hemi-equipped Charger Police Vehicle has been gaining ground. NYPD has been buying and testing a few Dodges too.

I can attest to this trend personally as my last speeding ticket was delivered to me via a left side barrier-hugging Dodge Charger piloted by a brave and humble servant of the Golden Valley Police Department. Eden Prairie also has at least one of the new Dodges. Edina has at least one in black, the stealth package.

I can tell you that nothing is more menacing in your rear view than a Dodge Charger PV with blacked out headlights and grille, ablaze with red, white and blue LED's firing from every pore. Crown Vics, not so much. The Chevy? Some people might just keep going. Not recommended though.

So be safe out there...but keep your eyes out for our men-in-blue and the shape of their latest new wheels.

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