NAUGATUCK — A new set of five compact police cruisers hit the borough streets this summer, marking a change from the Ford Crown Victoria model the Naugatuck Police Department used for more than a decade.
After Ford discontinued the Crown Victoria, the borough ordered new Interceptor sedans that are a variation on the 2013 Ford Taurus, Lt. Greg Dean said. The new cars get better mileage and the controls are better placed for officers to maneuver, Dean said.
“People are saying that they look futuristic,” Dean said. “I haven’t seen them anywhere else but Naugatuck. … People are getting a kick out of it.”
Money allocated from the borough’s reserve fund will pay for four more sedans this fall and two new Ford Explorer-type sport utility vehicles for patrol supervisors. When those cars arrive, cars from 2004 and 2005 will be phased out, meaning more than half of the department’s patrol fleet will be overhauled this year, Dean said.
Each new sedan costs nearly $26,000, and the sport utility vehicles cost $29,000 each. The borough also had to pay for added police equipment such as upgraded radios and the barriers that separate officers from those arrested. The department used to remove the barriers from cars that were being phased out, but the old barriers do not fit now that the model has changed.
The cars will be financed through a three-year lease-purchase agreement, requiring the borough to pay more than $87,000 annually for the next three years.
Dean said some of the old police cars could go to the fire department, which is looking to replace some 1999 Crown Victorias the police department passed on years ago.
The department will also trade in a 2008 Chevrolet Suburban and a 2008 Chevrolet Tahoe for $30,000 to buy a new SUV for the police chief, Christopher Edson.
The old patrol sedans had rear-wheel drive but the new ones have all-wheel drive, Dean said.
“It gives us more accessibility during inclement weather to get out to people in distress,” he said.
According to Ford estimates, the new sedans get 19 city miles to the gallon, whereas some of the Crown Victorias the police department uses get 15 city miles per gallon. Edson has ordered a study to determine the actual gas mileage of the new cars and how much is being saved.
“It’s a tricky thing to nail down,” Dean said. “We feel there are going to be considerable savings throughout the course of the year with gas and maintenance fees.”
The exact savings will also be hard to calculate because the borough bases its budgets on average expenditures over the last three years, Mayor Robert Mezzo added.