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City proposes to utilize SUVs for patrol cars

In an effort to save money, police to purchase pursuit-rated Chevy Tahoes
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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In an effort to save money, City Council members are considering a measure that would allow the Rocklin Police Department to add new pursuit-rated Chevy Tahoes to their fleet of discontinued Ford Crown Victoria full-size patrol cars. Rocklin City Manager Rick Horst told council members during Tuesday?s budget hearing that the city can get SUVs for essentially the same price as pursuit-rated sedans because the city is taking advantage of a government program that gives them a 10- to 20-percent discount for public safety equipment. ?It gets better gas mileage and there is more room for the officer and his equipment,? Horst said. The fuel savings argument could be debated, depending on which vehicle line the department ultimately chooses. Rocklin police report the 2013 Tahoe gets 15 MPG in the city and 21 MPG on the highway as compared to the 2012 Crown Victoria, which gets 14 MPG in the city and 21 MPG on the highway. The city report indicated the SUV was for ?larger officers and prisoners having difficulty with ingress, egress.? Rocklin Deputy Chief Dan Ruden explained that has nothing to do with America?s obesity problem, but rather the complaints from people using the smaller patrol cars. ?They?re reporting back to us and saying, ?I?m a big guy. We have a 260-pound person trying to get in and having difficulty,?? Ruden said. ?They are pushing their ability to fit.? Ruden said the SUVs offer more shoulder width, leg room, cargo capacity and back seat leg room for prisoners. ?Who knows what size the prisoner would be,? Ruden said. Rather, the issue is the weight of the equipment added to sedans that are getting smaller with each new model. ?The new police cars are getting down to a size where there is a payload issue ? to carry a police officer, a couple of bad guys, equipment, shotgun and computer,? Rocklin Police Chief Ron Lawrence said. Police Interceptor Sedan?s 1,200-pound payload doesn?t leave much room for equipment with a fully-armed officer(s) on board with prisoners. Rocklin is also considering moving from steel prisoner cages to aluminum to help the weight distribution. Ruden said the police supervisors would get the SUVs because they carry more equipment, including stop sticks used to disable a suspect?s vehicle during pursuits. The department is testing Tahoes as well as Chevy Caprice and Ford Police Interceptors. They have all but eliminated the Dodge Charger platform. City Council member George Magnuson raised concerns about increased roll over risks with SUVs. ?They have a higher center of gravity and could tip over in pursuits,? Magnuson said. ?That?s a point of concern that I have.? Testing is ongoing, but Ruden said the police Tahoes are lower to the ground and better built for pursuits than the civilian model. ?We know what the gross vehicle weight rating for each vehicle offered now. We know what we have to work with,? Ruden said. ?What we don?t know yet is what (does) Rocklin?s equipment weigh.? Some of the equipment will soon become obsolete and other things like computer equipment will be smaller. Ford recently discontinued the ever-popular Crown Victoria used for police patrol cars. The City Council is expected to consider the proposed budget during a public hearing on June 26. ________ Police SUVs vs. Cars 2013 Tahoe: $30,000* Police equipment: estimated $14,000 Miles per gallon: 15 city/21 highway Five year life cycle or 100,000 miles *Governmentdiscounted rate Source: City of Rocklin