Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Coulda had a V-8

If you don’t think gasoline is going to get very expensive (again), then you are living in a fantasy world.  It’s a simple matter of supply and demand. Back in the 1960’s, the street scene in Chinese cities was devoid of cars and filled with bicycles.china

Today, however, it looks more like this.  Those immense traffic jams in Shanghai and Beijing are indicative of the fact that around the world there are millions of more automobiles being driven these days. The demand for gas is growing by leaps and bounds.  In think we’ve been lulled into a sense of complacency during this recession, but the price of gas will inevitably be jolting in our near future.

Police officers do a lot of driving. Here in Lincoln, we run around 2.5 million miles annually.  That’s a lot of gas, and a huge expense.  We have been working on increasing our fleet mileage, and had some pretty good success, coming up from 11.0 MPG in 2004 to 12.7 MPG last year.  That may not sound like much, but it’s a huge amount of gas when you drive as many miles as we do.

We can do better, though, and it is an imperative.  We simply can’t afford to waste fuel.  This year, our Dodge Chargers will be V-6s rather than the Ford V-8s.  Our unmarked vehicles will be 4 cylinder hybrids.  We are even deploying four hybrid Ford Escapes as marked patrol units—a first for us. 

We are not alone, and a growing number of police departments are foregoing V-8 patrol vehicles.  My prediction is that the police patrol car in the United States is going in the same direction as Europe a few decades ago: smaller, lighter, and much more fuel efficient. 

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

nicer

ARRRRG!!!! said...

Mine's already a hybrid.

Steve said...

Seems like most police chases are a thing of the past anyway. No need in having muscle cars if we're not going to use them.

Anonymous said...

The V-6 Charger has the same horsepower as a V-8 Crown Vic but is more fuel efficient. Ford has developed a V-6 with 60 more horsepower than the current Crown Vic V-8 and the 2012 Taurus Interceptor has a 115 horsepower advantage while getting significantly better mileage. The technology keeps getting better. Unfortunately, you can't get totally away from using full size vehicles. Police vehicles sit around at idle a lot and consume fuel without going anywhere. That's the real killer. My Crown Vic gets 24 mpg most of the time, but it is usually going down an interstate highway.

256

Anonymous said...

Good news - glad you are thinking about this.
Two questions come to mind -

1. What impact might this have on liability insurance or whatever the city has to carry regarding high speed chases? My guess is the few opportunities that present themselves in a regular week are going to be even fewer with officers driving V6 or smaller. Any thoughts on that issue?

2. I'm guessing there will come a time as vehicles get smaller and you dump more gear into them, that you'll need to move to a different system of prisoner transport. COPS shows that a lot of larger cities rely on transport vans to haul those in custody downtown. I'm sure there are a number of reasons for this beyond tiny backseats, but I suspect this type of change is on your radar for the future?

Anonymous said...

and these days, with new engine technology, a V-6 can have more horsepower and much better fuel efficeniey than a V-8 from a few years back...ie, look at the new v-6 for mustangs - they are more powerful than the v-8 mustangs from a few years ago.

Ben said...

Are you planning on eventually changing out the entire fleet to more fuel efficient cars? You've gotta keep some performance racers around for high speed chases right? ;)

Anonymous said...

With that screwy strict liability law in this state, high-speed chases are probably rare. and I bet it's more likely to have to really fly to an emergency incident somewhere out in the rural county.

Don't get to focused on cylinder count. I've got a 4 that will do ~155 (though I've only had it about halfway there, merging onto I-80) and can sneak up on 25 mpg while puttering along in 6th gear at 75.

Anonymous said...

How is officer acceptance of these new rides? Can you actually get officers to swallow their ego and drive less manly vehicles?

Wouldn't minivans be a good fit for police vehicles? Lots of space in these, minus the soccer ball in the rear glass of course.

Tom Casady said...

9:25-

1. Doubt it would have any impact. See 10:50.

2. Yes, that's on my radar. I suspect we'll be looking at Europe-sized police cars at some point in the not-too-distant future, in which case transport vehicles will be a necessity, and will have to consume some of our staffing.


Ben-

See 10:50. Chases are mostly an anachronism, given our law. Nobody outruns the speed of light, though, and technology is on our side.

Anonymous said...

Chief,
How are the Segways working out? Are you planning on adding more?

Gun Nut

Steve said...

Ooooh! A high-speed Segway chase! That's what I want to see on the newsreels! (Do they still have newsreels?)

Anonymous said...

Steve-For a real thrill just buy the first two seasons of CHiPs on DVD. You pretty much know the outcome of every chase, and no one ever gets killed. Much more entertaining than current offerings on TV or a Segway chase. And as an added bonus the other CHP officers drive real (Mopar) police cars.

256

Randy 552 said...

I saw a recent news article on for a company called "Carbon Motors" that was marketing a police only car that will utilize a BMW diesel. The report said it was suppose to get 20+ mpg and last 250k miles. It will be interesting if they can actually bring it to the market place.

Anonymous said...

-Chief,

I know the downtown bar scene is always weighing on your mind. Has there ever been any thought about hourseback patrol for downtown Lincoln? I know it's kind of out there but I know some cities do it. Just wanted to hear your thoughts.

Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Has the cost of hybrid battery pack replacement come down in the last couple of years, or has hybrid battery pack life been extended, so that you won't have to replace the pack before you mile out the cars at 80,000?

Tom Casady said...

Randy,

I've blogged about the Carbon Motors concept a few times previously. I'll be interested to see if it actually hits the market. The mock-up I saw was very cool, and incorporated some really awesome concepts, like integrated lights, huge rear door hinges, suicide doors, a molded rear passenger compartment, a purpose-build equipment stack integrated into the console, and more. Prototypes and production are two different things, and its all got to work out economically.

8:04-

Cost of ownership vs. actual hours on the street for horses is high. I don't think the return-on-investment is there for Lincoln. Mind you, I think horses are great for crowd control, and we've certainly got the crowds at bar break, but it's only three nights per week, and only for an hour or two on those nights. O Street would also be a problem: it's a U.S. Highway with a heavy traffic flow, and there really isn't much room on the sidewalk or on the street for maneuvering when its already packed with cars and drunks....err, pedestrians.

Grundle King said...

Chief, I understand that many chases are called off due to concerns regarding safety, but could you tell us if the folks involved in the following chases were ever caught?

Stolen car involved in police chase

Lincoln police: Cadillac passenger sprays other driver

ARRRRG!!!! said...

I have a horse you could use.

Anonymous said...

Is the criminal element in Lincoln smart enough to know about the slim chance of being pursuited by LPD? Do you think it would make a difference?

Tom Casady said...

Grundle King:

The January, 2009 case was cleared by arrest. The February, 1010 case has not been cleared. We identified a suspect who we believe is responsible, however, the victim could not pick him out in a photo lineup, and there is not enough probable cause to arrest.

1:21-

The criminal element doesn't much follow current events. Nonetheless, I think most people generally realize that the police are less likely to pursue these days. The bad actors are often dull, drugged, drunk, or all the above, and not thinking real clearly.

Anonymous said...

Congrats on finding ways to save money and fuel!

Now, if you could use the police cars to sell advertising ala NASCAR.

Chief Casady doin' the rounds in the AARP-Pennzoil-Subway Dodge Charger. Sounds cool to me.

What else sounds cool? The "Jack & John in the Morning" blog. The most viewed blog in Lincoln in the month of June! Yeah, us!!!

JB

Anonymous said...

Chief-As a certified car nut, I thought I'd share one last thought. My Dad was a State Trooper so from an early age, I've been fascinated with Police vehicles as I always had one backed into the driveway at my childhood home, ready to speed off on a moment's notice. Guys of my (our) vintage will tell you that the late '60s or early '70s Mopars were the best. But I remember two that I'd take any day over those. My Dad had two 1960 Plymouths, one with a single 4 barrel 383 and one with a cross ram dual 4 barrel that he swore was the fastest Police vehicle ever. I remember this beast sitting there with two foot fins looking like a spaceship with a gumball on top and had a square steering wheel. Awesome for a second-grader. My personal favorite was his 1963 Ford Custom 2-door sedan with a 406, bench seat, and 3-speed on the tree. It had factory cast headers, dog dish hubcaps and flew down the road. He let me ride along and run radar with him one night. No seatbelts, a metal dash to impale yourself if you wrecked, and drum brakes. Perfect.

So I'm a relic or dinosaur when I picture a Fiesta buzzing up to a bar-fight, with that god-awful high-low european siren blaring and a cop the size of Ron Klem getting stuck in the door trying to exit and having to call LFD for the Jaws to extract him.

Seriously, I'm sad for the predicament you're in as it relates to vehicles. Please do what's best but at least don't get those crappy sirens.

256

Eric said...

Chief,

Do you see a day when police will be using electric powered cars? Tesla makes an awfully powerful one in California.

Eric

Anonymous said...

Has the police department ever considered using E85? I see many of the newer cruisers have the Flex Fuel logo meaning they can utilize E85. It seems this may be a way to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels and support the local economy.

SM said...

I know you are looking for replacements for the Crown Vic, stumbled on this link testing new Police cars..
http://jalopnik.com/5644083/the-great-american-cop-car-shootout