The entire fleet of more than 15 hundred Houston Police Department patrol units will soon have new vehicles painted black and white over the next couple of years. Police Chief Charles McClelland says the market has forced the department to make changes:
"Our staplemate, the Ford Crown Victoria, is no longer being manufactured by Ford. So we're forced to look at other patrol vehicles; the Chevrolet Caprice, the Dodge Charger, the Ford Interceptor and the Chevy Tahoe for some of our specialty vehicles."
For 15-years, The Ford Crown Victoria model dominated the market for law enforcement's patrol cars. But demand for better fuel economy and performance has choked off sales over the years:
"The main thing that we have to consider is comfort for our police officers, because you gtotta remember these patrol vehicles, that's their office. That's their rolling office, so comfort level, roominess of the cabin, driver's compartment, where their computer equipment, all of the equipment that has to go in there fit, and still give them some comfort level. So that's our main consideration there."
McClelland says the new vehicles the department chooses must perform on par or better than the current fleet. The department is testing several different vehicles for its future patrol cars, and the new black and white color scheme is being paid for with forfeiture money from drug arrests. Chief McClelland says the department is also looking at changing the iconic 60's era blue uniforms for a more rugged, military style battle dress uniform in dark navy or black, to give officers more flexibility.
Pat Hernandez, KUHF News.