Sheriff says more efficient hybrids not suited to police work
Pictured from left to right are a marked cruiser with an exterior mounted light bar, an unmarked, fully equipped with emergency equipment vehicle and a slick top marked cruiser.
LA PLATA, Md. (Dec. 3, 2007)—The Charles County Sheriffs Office is moving to a more fuel efficient fleet. They recently introduced the Chevrolet Impala to their fleet of Ford Crown Victorias.
Moving to a more efficient fleet has the potential to greatly reduce agency costs and have a positive impact on the global climate crisis. In FY-2006, the Sheriff's Office drove their agency fleet 478,877 miles resulting in $830,213 in fuel costs.
The Sheriff's Office says Impalas have an initial savings of nearly $3,000 compared to the Ford Crown Victoria. Initial findings indicate the Impalas actual fuel efficiency is 3.0 to 5.5 miles per gallon better than the traditional police cruiser.
According to the EPA, a 2007 Ford Crown Victoria is rated at 15 MPG city and 23 MPG highway. The 2007 Chevy Impala 6 cylinder, 3.5 L is rated at 18 MPG city and 28 MPG highway.
I am extremely impressed with the savings and fuel efficiency, said Sheriff Rex Coffey. The acquisition of these vehicles has given us the opportunity to cut costs and help the environment.
somd.com asked the Sheriff's Office why they didn't consider more fuel efficient vehicles such as the Honda Civic Hybrid which gets a combined rating of 42 MPG—24 MPG better than the Impala and 27 MPG better than the Ford's respective city-driving ratings.
"While fuel efficiency was important we had to consider many other factors including the need for a police package and sufficient room for equipment, such as computers, and for transporting prisoners safely," said Kristen Timko, Media Relations Officer. "Hybrids like the Civic are more fuel efficient than the Impala, but the Impala is much better suited for police work."
The New York Time reported in October 2006 that, "Among police agencies, places as diverse as Seattle and Martin and Marion Counties in Florida are buying hybrid cars." The article also reported that a Washington State fleet administrator said "police had been skeptical, but warmed to the cars after testing them."
The Sheriff's Office is also increasing the number of slick tops in the fleet. Slick tops are marked police vehicles without an exterior rooftop mounted light bar. Studies have shown increased fuel efficiency when a vehicle does not have a light bar.
These slick tops will not completely eliminate the traditional cruiser. Officers who respond frequently to accidents or responding priority will keep them. Visibility is extremely important in those particular cases and it is beneficial to everyone they drive cars with the light bar, said Sheriff Coffey.
In the past, commanders drove unmarked police vehicles but now many drive marked cruisers without the exterior light bar. Slick top vehicles give us the best of both worlds, said Sheriff Coffey, more visibility and fuel efficiency.
Skeptical Police Warm to Clean Fleets, New York Times, Oct. 25, 2006