Virginia State Police phasing out old cruisers in favor of SUVs

Virginia State Police phasing out old cruisers in favor of SUVs
A Virginia State Police cruiser stationed outside the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 7 after a mob invaded the building. The agency is planning to phase the vehicles out in favor of SUVs. (Source: Virginia State Police photo)

State police are phasing out their unmistakable blue-and-gray sedans in favor of new model SUVs.

Officials told lawmakers that the switch to the new vehicles, which cost $13,000 more than the old cars, was unavoidable because Ford stopped making its Taurus Police Interceptor in 2019.

“They’re no longer being manufactured by Ford,” Secretary of Public Safety Brian Moran told the Senate’s budget committee.

He said the next cheapest option, the Dodge Charger, was ruled out because its HEMI V-8 engine can cause interference with the department’s emergency radios. It’s currently the only other police-model sedan manufactured in the country. Officials also raised reliability concerns, citing experience in other agencies.

That left the department with two police model SUVs to choose from: Ford’s Police Interceptor Utility and a Police Pursuit Chevy Tahoe. The department wrote in its budget request that the Tahoe was ruled out after the department test drove the vehicles and found them prone to “body roll and sway during rapid maneuvers.”

The department settled on the Ford SUVs, which cost $38,000 each, according to the agency, compared to the $25,000-per-car cost of the sedan. Gov. Ralph Northam is proposing the state dedicate just under $10 million next fiscal year to cover the difference.

“The costs of the new 2020 Ford Utility patrol vehicle increased 51 percent from the 2019 Ford Interceptor sedan and to further complicate matters, due to the redesign of the vehicle, most of the supplemental emergency equipment historically reused (transferred) from vehicle-to-vehicle with the previous model is not compatible with this newly-designed vehicle,” Virginia State Police Spokeswoman Corinne Geller wrote in an email.

Costs aside, the ubiquity of the vehicles and the amount of time troopers spend working in them imbues the old cruisers with a certain level of nostalgia.

The department began making the switch to the Taurus after Ford retired its iconic Crown Victoria in 2011.

The Virginia Mercury is a new, nonpartisan, nonprofit news organization covering Virginia government and policy.