Hilliard Northwest News

Police turn to Ford after waiting on new Chevy cruisers


Hilliard officials say they will turn to Ford to fill orders for new police cruisers because General Motors has been unable to fill orders for new Chevrolet Caprice PPV cruisers in an acceptable timeframe.

Police Chief Doug Francis said while he and most, if not all, Hilliard police officers prefer the specialty Caprice that GM manufactures for law-enforcement uses, the department simply can't wait for GM to fill the orders.

"It took 10 months for us to get last year's order (of four vehicles)," Francis said.

He said he advised a GM associate of the department's decision and was told GM apologized for the inconvenience and was striving to address the shipping delays.

Francis announced the plan to purchase six new police cruisers, all Ford Interceptors, which are Ford's specially manufactured police vehicles, at the April 22 meeting of Hilliard City Council's Public Safety and Legal Affairs Committee.

Each cruiser will cost about $27,000. After they are received from GM, the cruisers will be equipped for service at an additional cost, according to the city.

An ordinance authorizing the purchase of six cruisers through a joint-purchasing program and an existing contract with Germain Ford, for an amount not to exceed $162,000, was introduced at the April 22 meeting of the committee.

It is scheduled for introduction and a first reading at Hilliard City Council's May 13 meeting.

The new Ford Interceptors are considered "crossovers," Francis said, meaning they will have some characteristics of a sport-utility vehicle.

When Ford stopped manufacturing the Crown Victoria, a popular selection for police cruisers, many departments, including Hilliard, turned to the Chevrolet Caprice.

Hilliard added its first Caprices to the fleet in 2012 and officers lauded the response, handling and horsepower compared to the Crown Victoria.

Francis said if GM solves its shipping problems, the department would resume purchasing Caprices.

The switch will cause a moderate inconvenience as equipment cannot be switched between Ford and Chevrolet models, Francis said, but that inconvenience is less than the wait time for Caprices.

Each year, the department purchases new vehicles, typically four, to replace the oldest vehicles in the fleet.

The department plans to order six this year because it must replace its three K-9 vehicles.

BMW Financial Services donated a BMW to the department in 2006 for use as its first K-9 unit. The vehicle has passed out of warranty and repairs are becoming more frequent and expensive, said Mayor Don Schonhardt, who also serves as safety director.

Two years ago, the department expanded its K-9 force to three dogs and two cruisers were converted to K-9 units.