By Julie Huss
---- — LONDONDERRY — The Ford Crown Victoria, long a staple of police departments, has gone the way of the Pontiac LeMans and the Mercury Stable — out of production.
Make way for the Interceptor.
Londonderry police are among the first in the area to bring in a fleet of the new crossover Ford Explorer Interceptors, replacing the aging Crown Victorias.
Londonderry’s new 16-vehicle fleet began rolling in March. Derry police also are eyeing the Interceptor as its next vehicle.
Londonderry acting Town Manager and police Chief William Hart said the new vehicles are working out well.
“We took a look at our options and we settled on the Ford Interceptor,” Hart said.
The choice was an easy one, Hart said. The new vehicles are tops in safety and handling, in addition to being an all-wheel drive vehicle.
The new vehicles are outfitted with radios and laptop computers. They are also are more ergonomically suited for drivers, and will operate better in bad weather.
“All in all, we believe this new vehicle will provide a better, safer and more reliable vehicle for all of us and the public at a very reasonable price,” Hart said. “There are a lot of pluses for us.”
Police will enter into a three-year lease agreement as part of the town budget, which will be cost effective, Hart added.
“We were trying to minimize the cost on the community which I feel we did,” Hart said.
Money is set aside to support the costs in a police maintenance fund that is built into the police budget. According to town records, the Town Council approved a first-year lease payment for the 16 new vehicles in January at a cost of $105,000.
To help keep vehicle mileage in check, the marked cruisers will be swapped with unmarked vehicles to even out the numbers.
Derry police are also ready for a new look. At a recent budget workshop, police Chief Edward Garone said the Interceptor was a good choice.
“Every year, we roll our fleet over,” Garone said. “We try to switch when mileage gets too high.”
Derry’s new fleet would also be acquired through a three-year lease program with three annual payments of approximately $117,000.
Garone said Derry’s department would follow Londonderry to monitor its new fleet and how well it serves police in that community.
“We are watching that closely to see how they are setting them up,” Garone said. “We will be looking and learning from those departments around us.”
Derry Town Councilor Mark Osborne asked what would happen if police kept their fleet for another year. Garone said the mileage is high on the vehicles and that puts officers’ safety and work at risk.
“There are risks to officers at high speeds,” Garone said. “I’d rather not take that risk. These cars are all over town and I’m concerned about stress fractures that could happen over time and mileage.”
Chief Financial Officer Frank Childs said the police lease plan is built into the budget to help keep the fleet current. Waiting any longer could cost more in car repairs.
“The three-year plan has been the best way to go,” Childs said.
Hart said bringing the Interceptor on board was a good choice for Londonderry.
“It made a heck of a lot of sense for us,” he said. “They have more storage, better for the officers. It’s a sharp car.”