The Town Council approved a resolution this week authorizing the purchase of seven new police vehicles for the West Hartford Police Department.
Police Chief Tracey said that five of the vehicles will be SUVs - specially-equipped Ford Explorers, and five will be sedans. The sedans will be "Police Interceptors" – which Gove said is based on the body of a Ford Taurus.
The existing fleet consists mostly of Crown Victorias, but that model went out of production two years ago. Gove said that the department reviewed several models before choosing the Police Interceptor and Explorer models. The first Interceptors and a new Explorer were purchased last year.
Gove said that the models chosen were the best price, both the sedans and SUVs are all wheel drive, and they have better fuel efficiency than the Crown Victorias did. The engine is specially-designed to minimize gas usage when idling, he said.
The department has decided to split the fleet between sedans and SUVs after surveying officers. “What we found was really a mixed reaction between the officers. What it came down to was comfort for officers and equipment," he said.
"Line vehicles" are used 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, by officers in 8-hour shifts Gove said. Typical annual mileage is 50,000. The vehicles they are looking to replace currently have between 75,000 and 100,000 miles, but by the time the new ones arrive and are outfitted, all will have more than 100,000 miles on the odometer.
The higher-mileage vehicles will be rotated into use for officers who perform private duty jobs and other roles. The oldest vehicles in the fleet will be the ones sold off.
The $230,000 cost will be paid out of the Capital Non-Recurring Expenditure Fund, a portion of the department's Private Duty Fund where the monies earned from police officers' work at extra security jobs, such as at construction sites, are deposited. It includes the cost of purchasing new cages, lights, wiring, and stickers to fit the new models. In the future, as the department continues to replace the fleet, some of that will be able to be retrofit.
Gove said that the outfitting of the new vehicles will be done by the Department of Public Works, at a "huge cost savings. We bring the cars in kind of bare and our garage does a great job."