Both the City of Madison and University of Wisconsin police departments are making a change in their primary fleet vehicles, shifting from the traditional Ford Crown Victoria to the Ford Explorer after Ford nationally discontinued producing the Crown Vics in 2012.

UW Police Department spokesperson Marc Lovicott said UPWD began switching to the Ford Explorer Police Interceptor in 2012. The department has since obtained eight Explorers as the Crown Victorias were discontinued in 2011. He said the department now has only one Crown Victoria.

Madison Police Department Lt. Carl Strasburg said Madison police are just beginning to use the Explorer as a patrol vehicle now. He said MPD has been using the older cars for more than 20 years and does not just eliminate vehicles.

The Crown Victorias are expected to run about 10 years, so there will not be a full change in the Madison police fleet’s appearance for at least eight more years, he said.

Lovicott said an extensive process was involved in choosing the Explorers.

“A committee was set up that looked at all the different options out there for us,” Lovicott said. “They interviewed folks in the industry, met with different representatives from automotive manufacturers, traveled to test drive some of the replacements and ultimately decided with this one.”

Lovicott said the Explorer exceeded the performance of the Crown Victorias in fuel efficiency, acceleration, handling and size. He said this new model has all wheel drive which is beneficial when responding to calls in cold and icy Wisconsin weather.

Strasburg said the size of the Explorer will also allow officers to more easily store the equipment they need to carry around on a daily basis. He said the officers who have driven the Explorer feel it is more visible, which is particularly important downtown. He said pedestrians, bikers and scooterists will be safer moving around in the downtown area with this increased visibility of fleet vehicles.

Strasburg said there should not be a significant difference in cost between the new Explorers and old cars. He added the new cars will hopefully provide more value for police.

“I think it is a better vehicle for police needs and in the industry it is called ‘pursuit rated.’ That means that different police departments and engineers have tested the vehicle to make sure it is not a risk for rolling over – that it is safe,” Strasburg said. “It is and meets those requirements.”

[Photo via flickr user Brett Levin]