AUSTIN (KXAN) - The Austin Police Department unveiled its new "Utility Interceptor" on Wednesday and plans to roll out six of its newest vehicles by the end of the week.
"This is probably going to be the best vehicle that any police agency can use," said APD officer Marcus Davis.
The department will roll out the first wave of Ford Explorers on Friday, and plans to add 66 more by October.
"It's much more practical," he said. "We have much more equipment and evidence to haul around."
In addition to extra space, Davis, who is with APD's Technology Unit, says a big factor in choosing the new type of cruiser was safety.
"You can actually see outside the windshield," he said. "Before, with the Crown Victoria, the top of the (computer) monitor would be touching the bottom of the camera, creating a blind spot for the officer."
Officers can activate their cruiser's cameras at any time, but the new vehicles offer more automation.
"When you activate the lights or sirens it starts recording, as well," Davis said. "When you hit 90 mph based on GPS, it will trigger a recording. Or, whenever the officer opens the drivers side door, it will trigger a recording."
On the outside, the same black and white markings are evident, but some new high intensity strobe lights have been added for additional safety. Davis said those make the vehicle easier to spot, especially when trying to get through an intersection in an emergency.
The Ford Explorers cost a little more than $31,000 per vehicle. That is about $2,200 more than the sedans.
It's not yet a final farewell to the Crown Victoria's. The APD fleet consists of 350 marked cars. They retire the vehicles based on mileage or age, so it will be a little while before the utility interceptors take the place of all the cars.
Comparing the Utility Interceptor to the Crown Victoria
- The Interceptor has more horsepower in a smaller sized engine and also has a six speed transmission, compared to the Crown Vic's four.
- There is also an all-wheel drive in the Interceptor, where there is only a rear-wheel drive in the Crown Vic.
- While the front leg room is a little smaller in the Interceptor, there is more head room. The new vehicle is also a bit safer with extra side-curtain airbags not available in the Crown Vic.
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