Sunday, July 12, 2009
WHAT IS THE COUNTY SUPPOSED TO USE SMART CARS?
MAYBE JEFF STONE SHOULD TRADE IN HIS GAS GUZZLING DODGE CHARGER AND USE A "SMART CAR" TO SAVE THE COUNTY MONEY!!!
REGION: County considering smaller patrol cars
By JEFF ROWE - firstname.lastname@example.org
RIVERSIDE ---- On a trip to France in January, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone noticed small police cars scooting about the tight streets of Paris.
"A good idea for Riverside County," he thought. WHAT A DUMB IDEA JEFF!!!!
Back home, Stone took up the notion of using smaller cars with Sheriff Stanley Sniff and the county's fleet manager, Bob Howdyshell.
They agreed on a test.
While Stone envisioned squads of small cars zipping about nabbing evil-doers, even before the tests cars have been decided upon it appears the incumbent Crown Victoria already has won, a triumph attributed to geography, habits, policing tactics and dips in the road.
Stone's goal is to reduce the sheriff's fuel bill, which totaled $5.5 million for the last 12 months. The Crown Victoria only gets about 18 miles per gallon. Hybrids and smaller cars can get twice that. The sheriff's fleet now includes 788 "black and whites," the Crown Vic patrol cars.
Stone became so enthused about the potential savings that he made the conversion to smaller cars part of his 24-point SCRAPE program, an acronym that stands for Saving County of Riverside Against Preventable Expenses. His goal: saving $3 million a year on fuel for the Sheriff's Department.
Finding a smaller, more fuel-efficient patrol car that incorporates all the Crown Victoria features and will be acceptable to deputies will be a great challenge. Patrol cars need to be pursuit-qualified, said Howdyshell, director of the county's Department of Purchasing and Fleet. Pursuit-qualified vehicles used in the United States include the Crown Victoria, Dodge Charger, Chevy Impala and Chevy Tahoe.
"The Crown Vic has done best for us," Howdyshell said.
Deputies apparently agree, although the Riverside Sheriff's Association didn't return calls seeking comment on the proposal.
But police organizations have come to like the performance and protection the muscular Crown Vic provides for patrolling.
To use less than the protection the Crown Vic provides "increases the chances officers will get hurt or killed," said Capt. Larry Grotefend, whose responsibilities include the department's fleet of vehicles. In addition to the patrol cars, the sheriff's fleet includes 163 unmarked cars, 300 vehicles for investigators, and 322 speciality vehicles, such as jail vans, buses and bomb-disposal trucks. Some of the cars used for undercover and investigative work are hybrids or other smaller vehicles, but none is used for patrolling, Grotefend said.
The Crown Vic also possesses a batch of other features deputies like; for example, it handles dips at intersections and rough roads better than the other pursuit-rated cars, Grotefend said.
The police model Crown Victoria costs $24,500 and comes with front-door armor, cooling routed to the trunk to keep radios from overheating, a special handling and cornering package, a tougher transmission and tires certified for 150-miles-per-hour pursuits.
Police cruisers then get what officers call an "upfit" ---- radios, lights, push bar, plastic seat in the back, prisoner screen between the front and back seat and kevlar sheeting on the windows, which makes them bullet resistant. That equipment costs $8,000.
Smaller police cars are used in many countries around the world, especially in compact metropolitan areas such as Hong Kong. Some small towns in the U.S. also are using smaller cars and the trend toward community policing in urban areas is getting more police officers out of cars and onto the street on foot or on new-technology scooters.
For now, the retreat in fuel prices is dampening pressure to save gasoline.
"There is a place for (smaller) cars, but to supplement pursuit vehicles is more difficult," Grotefend said.
Call staff writer Jeff Rowe at 951-676-4315, Ext. 2621.
Labels: smart car arrogant jerk