Sheriff's Department tests new vehicles

PALM DESERT, Calif. - There's a new look for some police cars patrolling the valley.  The Riverside County Sheriff's Department is testing two cars that could soon be added to the fleet.  It's a big change after the Ford Crown Victoria's been a trademark of the department for more than a decade.  "It's been around a long time, we're familiar with it," said Lieutenant Mike Lind.  "We know what works, what doesn't work."

Ford discontinued the model, driving the department to look for vehicles to replace it. Cars like the Chevy Caprese and Ford Interceptor.  The civilian version of the Interceptor is a Ford Explorer.  Now, stations all over the country will test the next generation of police car.  "The Crown Vic has 250 horse power, the V8s that we're used to driving," said Lt. Lind.  "The new Ford V6, the utility version, has about 304 horsepower."

The test cars aren't only more powerful, they're also more fuel efficient.  The test cars also use less energy. New LED police lights replace the old halogens.  New technology comes at a price though. "We were getting those in probably the $24,000 range," said Lind.  "Whereas these cars, the base prices are more closer to $30,000."

Lieutenant Lind says, his team's doing all the research they can to keep costs down. "Making sure that we're not just spending frivolously, we're actually looking at what is the best car for the department," said Lind.

Until a decision's made, Lind says every deputy's excited to get a chance behind the wheel.  "Even when you had the Crown Victorias, the deputies always wanted to drive the new vehicles," said Lind.  "Now with these new designed cars, they're eager to test drive them and see."

The department hopes to make a decision on its new cars by next year. 

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