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Vermont State Police Retire Last Crown Victoria in SUV Upgrade

  • Vermont State Police's last Ford Crown Victoria in service, shown with Trooper Michelle Archer from the Williston Barracks, is to be retired this week and sent to auction. Ford Explorer SUVs have become the replacement vehicle. (Courtesy Vermont State Police) Courtesy Vermont State Police

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 11/1/2018 11:54:45 PM
Modified: 11/1/2018 11:54:57 PM

White River Junction — Motorists used to scanning their rear-view mirrors for telltale Ford Crown Victoria Interceptors as they speed down Vermont highways have some adjusting to do.

Vermont State Police today are retiring their last in-service Crown Vic, part of a steady move away from V-8 sedans toward larger, winter-friendly SUVs.

Royalton Patrol Commander Sgt. Eric Hudson, who has been a police officer for nearly 30 years, drove a Crown Vic for the better part of his career.

He said it offered a comfortable setting, had little road noise and was a solid pursuit vehicle. But for today’s policing, the Crown Vic came with a notable shortcoming: size.

“We certainly have added a lot more equipment,” Hudson said, noting that most troopers haul with them cases of flares, road spikes, accessory lighting, crime scene kits, additional firearms and tactical and other gear.

And that’s just in one part of the cruiser.

Up front with the trooper are several radios, a computer and various controls, plus camera and electronic equipment. Add in a partition separating the officer from suspects and the space inside becomes increasingly more limited.

Another problem with the Crown Vics — in snowy Vermont — is they are rear-wheel drive vehicles.

Vermont started switching to Ford Interceptor Utility SUVs in 2012, the year after Ford stopped making the Crown Victoria. The V-6 SUVs are all-wheel drive, which is better suited for bad weather.

Vermont State Police currently has about 200 SUV cruisers on the roadway. In addition to that, the agency has about 20 Dodge Charger Pursuit sedans, which also are all-wheel drive. Most detectives in the state drive Chevy Impala or Ford Taurus police sedans, spokesman Adam Silverman said.

“The rationale essentially was the SUV provided the size, weight and capabilities to be the safest, best-equipped and most cost-effective option for new cruisers for the field force fleet,” said Silverman, who noted that the plan is to phase out all of the sedans in the state fleet.

“We initially purchased the newer sedans to keep some V-8 engines in our fleet, but we have decided to transition to all SUVs. As the sedans come out of service at their natural end of life, we will replace them with SUVs,” he said.

Although SUVs often are thought to guzzle more gas, that isn’t the case with the police-style cruisers.

The Crown Vics got 13-15 mpg, Silverman said, while the Ford SUVs reach between 16 and 18 mpg, he said.

It would appear that the SUVs cost more than Crown Victorias, although an apples-to-apples comparison is difficult because a Crown Vic hasn’t been purchased since 2011, Silverman said.

In 2011, the base price for a Crown Vic was $21,410, which adjusted for inflation is about $24,540 today. The 2019 Ford Interceptor Utility has a base price of $27,200, according to Silverman.

New Hampshire State Police’s fleet is made up predominantly of Dodge Charger Pursuit sedans.

Both the Lebanon and Hanover police departments have a mix of cruiser models. Lebanon has 11 Ford Interceptor SUVs and two Ford Interceptor sedans in its fleet, while Hanover has four SUVs and one sedan.

Lebanon Police Chief Richard Mello and Hanover Police Chief Charlie Dennis both said they made the switch in part because of the additional space an SUV provides.

“Our officers have enjoyed the change from the sedan to the SUV,” Dennis said. “(There is) definitely more room for the officer getting in and out with their equipment on, there is more room for prisoners in the back seat area and there is more room for other police equipment in the back-end cargo area.”

At some point today, the last remaining in-service Crown Victoria within Vermont State Police will come out of service, Silverman said.

That cruiser has been stationed out of the Williston Barracks and operated by Trooper Michelle Archer. Vermont State Police will send the cruiser to auction with all of the state’s other vehicles that are being retired.

Hudson, the Royalton patrol commander, now is driving an SUV, but misses the ride of the Crown Vic. But he also said he recognizes the value of the SUVs.

“We don’t get to call in sick when the roads are slippery,” Hudson said.

Jordan Cuddemi can be reached at jcuddemi@vnews.com or 603-727-3248.




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