AUSTIN (KXAN) - You may have already noticed the new Austin Police Ford Explorers out on the road. APD rolled out the first of the new utility interceptors--a modified SUV--in July.
As of Wednesday, 45 are out on patrol. By mid-November, APD expects to have 66 on the streets.
Austin's City Council voted Thursday to approve purchasing 190 more police vehicles.
APD Commander Andrew Michael says they've gone to the Explorer for their standard patrol functions. They're also requesting to purchase Ford Tauruses for non-patrol work.
The request for 190 more vehicles costs $5,566,291. The approval will make way for 140 new SUVs for patrol, and 50 Taurus sedans for non-patrol.
The Ford Explorers will eventually take over the entire fleet of patrol cars for APD. Purchases like the 190 vehicles will continue over the next few years. Commander Michael says an entire fleet for the department is between 900 and 1,000.
The city typically purchases new vehicles each year for APD as older cars need to be replaced. Crown Victorias aren't made anymore.
Michael says the switch to SUV from sedan for patrol is economical.
"This is actually a vehicle that gets 10 percent better gas mileage than the Crown Victorias of 2011 or any previous years," Michael said. "We explored a lot of vehicles when we chose the utility interceptor, and quite honestly, the Explorer version of the police vehicle was the best for the city and the citizens of Austin."
The 190 vehicles will hit the roads throughout 2014.
The new interceptors cost a little more than $31,000 a piece. They come partially equipped for patrol use. Extra outfitting, like lights, computers and more, comes from the vehicles which they are replacing.
They're designed to better protect you as well as the officers. Now any cameras mounted inside will be activated by more than just officers. Any time the driver's side door is opened--such as officer getting out for a traffic stop--or when an officer hits 90 mph, those cameras will automatically kick on and start recording.
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