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Rocklin Police stock up on patrol cars

Ford discontinuing Crown Victoria; City buys 10 to update fleet
By: Jon Brines, Placer Herald Correspondent
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Despite a tight budget the Rocklin Police Department is purchasing 10 brand new Ford Crown Victoria patrol cars.
The number of cars purchased is double — in part due to Ford’s decision to scrap the popular police model next year, reports Rocklin Deputy Police Chief Dan Ruden.
“I understand people are going to say, ‘Why are you buying 10 cars at a time like this?’ But the fact is, before you know it, it is going to be next year. We’re saving money,” Ruden said.
The city is considering the Chevy Caprice, Dodge Charger or the Ford Taurus as pursuit-rated replacements next year.
Ruden admits waiting until the new platform is identified could double the expense as most of the police components would need to be purchased new. Currently, the city reuses Crown Vic components, but next year that won’t be an option.
“For a brand new patrol car to up fit completely with new equipment is double the cost of the car — the car plus one,” Ruden said. “It is much cheaper to get the same platform and move the equipment from one car into the other. Generally everything fits.”
According to the city, each vehicle was purchased for $27,007, which includes tax, extended warranty, and a tire fee.
On top of the cost of the vehicle is an additional $14,097 for a contractor to pull the used equipment off the old patrol cars and reinstall them on the new cars. The price includes new computers, mounts and police decals.
Right now, eight new police cruisers for Rocklin are parked at Lehr Auto in Sacramento awaiting installation of the police equipment needed for street duty.
Rocklin’s Fleet Supervisor Russ French said the city will gradually swap out the old cars in an effort to be the least disruptive to the patrol operation as possible.
“We will be taking our first car out of service for removal and replacement the same day,” said French. “Up fitting will probably start sometime next week depending upon the vendor’s schedule.”
Things like the light bar, gun rack, laptop mounting and push bumpers for disabled cars will need to be swapped out. Reusing the old components is not an option for the new pursuit vehicle platform, according to Ruden.
Ford announced plans to close the Canadian plant that manufactures the Crown Vic early next year creating a buying frenzy for police agencies like Rocklin.
Even though the automaker has controlled reportedly more than 70-percent of the patrol cars sold nationwide, the company is expecting the demand to fall off for the 16-mile-to-the-gallon cruiser.
Ruden said many of them are pushed past their service life in Rocklin.
“Half of them are past due and the other half are due to be replaced in this budget year,” Ruden said. “So if we say, ‘we’ll just do the half that we’ve been hanging on to, the really old ones and push the ones that are due this year another year - it is penny wise and pound foolish.”
About two years ago the city decided to delay its program to replace aging fleet vehicles to save money during the recession. The city normally swaps a patrol car out every four years, but five of the aging vehicles are 2005 models. Currently eight of the ten old patrol cars are over 100,000 miles, which has voided their warranty and could create even more costly repairs.
“If we hurt a police officer because we have a wheel falling off because the wheel bearing is worn out or whatever — just because it is a high mileage car — we never want that to happen,” Ruden said. “We’ve pushed that out at least four years in the future by going forward with the replacement of all ten cars.”
The expense isn’t over, the city will need to replace a couple more vehicles next year.
“It’s the cost of doing business,” Ruden said. “Without patrol cars we’re out of business.”
French said the city is leaning toward purchasing the Chevy Caprice in the future.
Later this year Rocklin will attend a test run at the California Highway Patrol of possible new replacements for the Crown Victoria.
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Police car cost for Rocklin
New vehicle purchase
: $27,007
Police components: $14,097
Total cars purchased: 10
Total cost: $411,040
Source: City of Rocklin