The Oklahoma City police department will replace its black-and-white Ford Crown Victoria squad cars with a first round of upgraded cruisers in two to three weeks.
And they have a dramatically different look.
The 2013 Ford Police Interceptor models are all-black squad cars and sport-utility vehicles. There are 78 sedans — 54 with front-wheel drive and 24 all-wheel drive — and two SUVs for use by the K-9 unit.
The auto manufacturer no longer makes the Crown Victoria model for police departments, said Master Sgt. Earl Newton, police fleet manager. Those models have been used by the police department since 1998, he said. The department typically replaces police vehicles after 100,000 miles.
The sedans cost the department $36,775 to $37,775 each, as compared to about $29,400 for the older models. The SUVs cost $39,097 each.
“They have a lot of technology that will help us protect the citizens, and a lot of safety features for the officers that will drive them,” Capt. Dexter Nelson, a spokesman for the department.
The sedans are based on the newly redesigned Ford Taurus chassis. The SUVs are based on the Ford Expedition chassis.
Officers who have trained in the new vehicles so far like the way they handle, Nelson said.
Features new for officers include electronic stability control, upgrades to ergonomics and new technology for each car's electronic and computer equipment. All of the cars have an LED emergency light bar. The cars have improved fuel efficiency over the older models.
Improved door panels are meant to protect officers.
That upgrade was made to some Crown Victoria squad cars after a shooting involving Oklahoma City police officer Katie Lawson, Police Chief Bill Citty said.
Lawson had just finished assisting the deputy when she was ambushed on Aug. 29, 2010, near NW 38 and Miller by Hector Escalante, who fired 20 rounds from a civilian version of a military assault rifle into Lawson's patrol car.
Lawson was hit six times — in the face, legs and body — but pulled her own weapon and returned fire before her assailant fled. She returned to duty in March 2011.
Escalante, who later was arrested, pleaded guilty to the ambush and was sentenced to life in prison, plus an 18-year prison term on a weapons charge.
Ballistic panels will be installed in all new squad cars. In the future, the cars will be able to adapt to technology like electronic fingerprinting and ticketing, Nelson said.
The 581-vehicle fleet of marked sedans eventually will be replaced with the Interceptor models.