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Crimewatch: APD tests new patrol cars

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The Austin Police Department is testing new patrol cars for its officers after Ford stopped making the Crown Victoria.

The Police Interceptor is the consumer version of the Taurus. It's got the same horse power as the Crown Victoria, so it's just as fast.

Lt Pat Cochran says every detail of the car has to be evaluated, like the push bar. While it works on the Crown Victoria, the $550 item sits too low on the Interceptors. The new push bar sits higher.

"We use them to push cars out of the road and we do it several times a day. Either they are out of gas, we can push them to a gas station, if they're in a collision, we can push the car off the road, if they don't start or something and that clears the roadway," said Cochran.

The Interceptors' side mirrors have emergency lights.

Even the pattern of the flashing lights will be studied and decided by top brass.

When officers open the trunk on the new vehicles, the trunk door no longer blocks the back emergency lights like they do now.

The Police Interceptor will most likely end up as unmarked units for detectives. They are just not big enough to hold all police equipment, including several traffic cones. The back is also tight and not tall enough for prisoner transport. But they still need to be tested.

"The sedan is the cheaper version so we want to make sure if it will work for us that we do our due diligence," said Cochran.

The sedan goes for $28,300. The Police Interceptor SUV, however, is slighter more expensive at $29,700. This will most likely be the new patrol unit for police. It's not the SUV civilians know. These are designed for pursuits.

"They go just as fast around the corner, you can chase people just as fast in it," said Cochran.

The backseats are taller so it's easier to get people in and out.

APD is also considering adding a rear air conditioning and heating unit in the back.

Right now, there is no air conditioning in the back and temperatures easily climb to the triple digits in the summer.

APD is also looking at electric cars, like the Ford Focus. Just one charge will last about 100 miles. Charging though takes eight hours at home and less time at city owned stations. It leaves zero emissions and it a zero carbon foot print.

Obviously these wouldn't be for patrol but perhaps for someone in an administrative role. Other departments like Austin Energy, the city's water department, and Austin Travis County EMS are also looking into the Focus.

While consumers pay around $40,000 for the green car, APD and other city entities would pay much less. The first round of cars will come in toward the end of the year. The City Council already approved money for the new cars.

Ford plans to make the police interceptors for at least nine more years.

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