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New police cars out on the roads

Published 11:29pm Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Bainbridge Public Safety officers have added 10 new Dodge Chargers to their fleet of patrol cars.
The 10 new patrol cars were ordered last December from Dean Chrysler Dodge Jeep Inc. of Bainbridge, who was the low bidder.
The cars will cost $30,767.47 each, for total of $307,674.70, which will come out of the city’s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax receipts.
“The old cars that the Dodge Charger are replacing were 2007-2008 models with over 100,000 miles on each,” BPS Director Eric Miller said. “We drive these cars harder and faster than the average person would, so they don’t last quite as long.”
BPS currently uses exclusively Ford Crown Victoria patrol cars. However, Ford has discontinued the Crown Victoria from fleet availability, as well as to the general public, so another model had to be chosen to replace BPS’s high-mileage vehicles.
The Dodge Charger has been adopted by a number of law enforcement agencies, including the Georgia State Patrol, and BPS had some practical, functional customizations applied to the cars they ordered.
BPS chose the base V6 engine, which still has 292 horsepower, because the extra speed of a V8 engine isn’t needed within city limits, Miller said. The car does have a police interceptor package, which adjusts the car’s gear ratio and torque to allow the car to accelerate more quickly.
On the front of car is a brush guard that can be used for pushing disabled cars out of the roadway.
“It also saves the main body of the car from some damage in the event of an accident,” Miller said. “It’s a good investment, especially because it can improve officers’ safety while driving.”
The rear seats of the patrol cars will be made up of hard plastic with no gaps, which means it will be difficult for anyone in police custody to hide any items such as illegal drugs in the car, Miller said. The hard plastic seats will also be easier to clean than the standard cloth seats.
In the past, there were incidents of detainees attempting or succeeding to kick out a rear window in a patrol car. The new patrol cars have bars in both rear windows, and the rear doors have flat panels with no handles to open the door from inside.
One technological upgrade the new patrol cars will have are newer ICOP in-car video systems.
According to a memo Miller wrote to the Bainbridge City Council, “The in-car video system has been vital in protecting our officers from false accusations of misconduct, along with capturing video evidence that is used in criminal prosecution.”
The in-car cameras, which capture audio and video, are set up to automatically begin recording when the car’s lights and sirens are turned on, or when the patrol car’s speed reaches 55 miles per hour.
Thirteen older Crown Victorias are also due to get the new ICOP system, and once the upgrades are complete, all 25 of BPS’s patrol cars will be able to automatically upload video recorded by in-car cameras via wireless technology, Miller said.
“This increases the integrity of the audio/video evidence as well as reduces the need by an officer to manually remove the hard drive from the unit in the car and download it to the server at the end of their shift,” Miller wrote in his memo to the council.
Another useful addition is a spotlight mounted just in front of the driver’s window frame.
“The spotlight can be used to locate residences, find individuals who are missing or in harm’s way and also illuminate the scene of a night-time accident or fire,” Miller said.
The center console between the car’s front seats has been streamlined to allow the convenient placement of both rifles and shotguns that BPS issues to its officers for use in extraordinarly dangerous situations.
Every piece of equipment not built into the car at the factory, such as the radar speed-detection unit, are hard-mounted instead of attached with velcro.
“In case the officer is involved in an accident, we didn’t want pieces of equipment flying around in the car,” Miller said.
Another useful feature that comes standard with the Charger is a keyless ignition system. Officers carry around a keyless entry remote; when the remote is detected inside the car, the officer can then press a button to start or stop the car’s engine.
Citizens can see various equipment operated by the city’s Public Works and Public Safety divisions, including the new BPS patrol cars, at the “Touch-a-Truck” event, to be held Saturday, May 4, between 9 a.m. and noon around the Willis Park square.

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