More silver Interceptors on the way for VBPD in move to replace cop cars with SUVs

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VERO BEACH — The Vero Beach Police Department has rolled out a plan for a full fleet face-lift — phasing out the black-and-white cop car for a sport utility vehicle for function, comfort and to “keep up with the times.”

Several of the vehicles have been on the road for nearly a year, getting “nothing but positive” feedback, police officials said.

By 2027, you won't be able to rely on scanning the horizon or checking the rearview mirror for an obvious black-and-white cop car if you go a few miles over the speed limit or come to a rolling stop anywhere in city limits.

Instead look out for a shark-silver SUV.

The Vero Beach Police Department vehicle fleet will be gradually changed from black and white Dodge Chargers to silver Ford Police Interceptor sport utility vehicles by 2027, officials said.
The Vero Beach Police Department vehicle fleet will be gradually changed from black and white Dodge Chargers to silver Ford Police Interceptor sport utility vehicles by 2027, officials said.

That’s when a police official said the new Ford Interceptors would entirely replace the well-known Dodge Charger in use since 2014.

The Police Department introduced 13 of the Interceptors into its fleet in March, and a little less than a year on the road, officials said 10 more are on the way to the city garage following a new order this year.

“We’ll slowly integrate the fleet as the older vehicles become outdated,” said Sgt. Brian Kerensky. “We’ll gear ‘em in over time (and) eventually we’ll have an entire fleet of SUVs.”

Kerensky was on a two-man team, which he said was tasked with finding new vehicles and choosing all the options and add-ons including the color and logo design.

“We gave input to the officers all along the way,” he said. “The officers had more concern about the items in the vehicle … we got feedback from them about what they liked and what they didn’t like.”

Although most people only ever see the exterior of a police car, Kerensky said with 12-hour shifts largely spent sitting in the vehicles, officers were concerned with things like interior space and storage capacity.

The Vero Beach Police Department vehicle fleet will be gradually changed from black and white Dodge Chargers to silver Ford Police Interceptor sport utility vehicles by 2027, officials said.
The Vero Beach Police Department vehicle fleet will be gradually changed from black and white Dodge Chargers to silver Ford Police Interceptor sport utility vehicles by 2027, officials said.

The ease of access for officers repeatedly getting in and out of an SUV was a plus, but also for the ease of placing people in the back after an arrest or during a transport, he said.

“Getting prisoners in and out of the vehicle … becomes a little bit easier when you have more room to work with,” Kerensky said. “Trying to get a larger person in the back of the Charger was much more complicated than it is right now.”

More room in the back and greater overhead clearance makes it easier and safer for officers to move people during arrests and on transports to and from jails, Vero Beach Police Department officials said.
More room in the back and greater overhead clearance makes it easier and safer for officers to move people during arrests and on transports to and from jails, Vero Beach Police Department officials said.

Along with added space up front for laptops and storage in the back for supplies, Kerensky said the rear seat was plastic coated making it easier to clean liquids and harder to conceal drugs, paraphernalia or weapons.

Silver police SUV body cuts costs

The silver body and dominant black logo versus a two-tone paint job cut back on costs, he said.

“The modern look is something we wanted to switch over to … keeping up with the times and getting a vehicle that had enough space,” he said.

The department replaces vehicles roughly every seven years, making spares of the older models.

Although comfort and function dominated the choice for both vehicles, he said, if needed, they are all fully capable of performing in a pursuit.

“We don’t have a lot of pursuits (but) they are pursuit-rated,” he said. “(There’s) not a concern how one’s going to function in a pursuit versus another.”

The first order of 13 Ford Interceptors costing $675,107.25 was made through a state contract and purchased from a dealer in Jacksonville in 2020, Kerensky said. The second order, made this year, came in at $498,361.50.

Added surveillance features from cameras and sensors throughout the vehicle were one the perks Fonseca said the SUVs had over the older Dodge Chargers acquired by the department in 2014.
Added surveillance features from cameras and sensors throughout the vehicle were one the perks Fonseca said the SUVs had over the older Dodge Chargers acquired by the department in 2014.

Funding for the vehicles came from the 1-cent sales tax.

Along with the patrol cars and SUVs, the department also has motorcycles, bicycles, an all-terrain vehicle and next year will acquire a boat, Kerensky said.

The motorcycle unit was replaced at the same time as the purchase of the 13 Interceptors and much of the same decision-making went into the selection of the new bikes.

Vero Beach police are riding BMW motorcycles

At $59,1333.70, the department replaced both of its Kawasaki motorcycles for more of a touring-style model BMW purchased from a dealer in Palm Bay.

It was a move from the more aggressive forward-crouched seated position of the Kawasaki, Kerensky said, to the upright riding stance of the BMW.

So far, after nine months in use he said both officers and the public seem to be fans of the new SUVs.

“The feedback has been nothing but positive,” Kerensky said.

Corey Arwood is a breaking news reporter for TCPalm. Follow Corey on Twitter @coreyarwood, or reach him by phone at 772-978-2246.

This article originally appeared on Treasure Coast Newspapers: New Vero Beach police SUVs: More silver Interceptors on the way

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