Charging forward: County gets new squad cars, new look
And, yes, that sharp-looking Dodge Charger dressed in the county’s new colors is a real police car with a real deputy behind the wheel.
And don’t get any foolish ideas about trying to outrun the Charger. It can reach 100 mph with plenty of power in reserve.
“This thing just grabs the road,” Deputy Tom Kunkel told his passenger in the Charger. “The pickup is unbelievable. The first time I got in and hit it, it was like ‘Wow!’
“It will come in handy when we’re doing traffic enforcement on the Interstate,” Kunkel said. “It’s got the snap to get up to speed in a hurry.”
The county recently bought seven new Ford Crown Victorias and two Chargers to replace aging cars in the sheriff’s department fleet.
The new cars—all rear drive—are replacing squads that had an average 166,000 miles on them, Sheriff Bob Spoden said.
One of the old cars racked up 180,000 miles, but it was a young vehicle compared to some that deputies have driven in recent years.
Under former Sheriff Eric Runaas, the department experimented with keeping and maintaining squad cars for three years—close to 300,000 miles—as a cost-saving measure, Spoden explained.
But the cost of buying new vehicles was similar to maintaining vehicles that often are driven 24/7 in a variety of ways, including very fast in emergencies, the sheriff said.
“Their durability and safety came into question,” he said, “and these vehicles have to respond to areas that might be miles away. They need to be dependable.”
The county piggybacked on a state contract to buy the new cars from Ewald Automotive Group.
The new Crown Victorias cost $22,812 each; the new Chargers, $23,600.
The contract also took the department’s old patrol cars in trade for $4,800 apiece. When the county auctioned old squads in the past, it typically would get $2,800 to $3,300 per car, the sheriff said.
The higher trade-in value allowed the department to trade in six Crown Vics but buy a seventh, Spoden said.
The sheriff’s department is trying the Chargers to see how they will perform and stand up because it wants the backup a second vendor will provide, Spoden explained.
“With Ford Motor Co., every year is a guess whether they will continue with the (full-size) Crown Vic,” he said. “We want something we can count on.”
The department’s entire fleet comprises some 60 vehicles—including SUVs, vans and unmarked cars for serving subpoenas—but the patrol fleet is 14 cars, including one unmarked car.
When a car gets too old for patrol, it typically is recycled to other uses, such as transporting inmates to court or for deputies to visit people under electronic monitoring, said Lt. Jim Dilley, who heads the department’s law enforcement support services.
Dilley, also the department’s composite artist, designed the new emblems for the cars.
The department hadn’t changed its emblem and color scheme in 15 years.
Dilley noted that what looks like gold leaf on the cars is really vinyl tape.
The new colors are more in line with deputies’ uniforms, and the new emblem is impressive yet simple—in keeping with the department’s effort to raise the bar of professionalism, Spoden said.
The cars’ cost
Rock County Sheriff squad replacement cost:
-- 2008 Ford Crown Victoria: $22,812.
-- One set squad decals: $350.
-- Labor to paint, decal and install equipment: 24 hours at $20 per hour—$480.
Above are the costs of each new Crown Victoria, but the cost of a patrol car ready for duty is greater because of its necessary equipment. But new equipment is not typically purchased for new cars. Rather, the sheriff’s department recycles equipment from old cars that have been traded in. Equipment is replaced only as needed, the department said.
This is a list of equipment and costs when new:
-- One Remington 870 12-gauge shotgun and ammo: $400.
-- Emergency light bar: $1,400.
-- Light and siren control: $350.
-- Siren speaker: $170.
-- Scanner: $140.
-- Mobile data terminal: $5,000.
-- Kenwood police radio: $375.
-- Radar unit: $1,800.
-- Center console with all face plates: $325.
-- A three-unit accessory outlet: $15.
-- Three antennas: $100.
-- Security screen: $370.
-- Stop sticks: $500.
-- Gun lock: $250.
-- Push bumper: $200.
-- Mirror lights: $215.
-- Grille lights: $310.
-- Computer mount: $300.
-- Total equipment: $12,220.
If all the equipment was new, the total cost would be $35,862 per car minus $4,800 trade-in for the old squad—total $31,062.
—Source: Rock County Sheriff’s Department