Police purchasing Dodge Chargers

For the general public having a Global Positioning System (GPS) in a vehicle can be a matter of convenience. For a police officer it could be a matter of life and death, which is why Hannibal Police Chief Lyndell Davis sought to include that technology in the new fleet of HPD vehicles that are now on order.

“It is a new piece of equipment we have never had,” said Davis of the Automatic Vehicle Locators (AVL). “Essentially it is a GPS device that allows 911 to know where the vehicles are at any given time. Our supervisors will have that capability, too.”

Davis considers the AVL a piece of safety equipment.

“For some reason if an officer is compromised and cannot get to the radio they (911 dispatchers) will be able to know where that officer’s vehicle is,” he said.

The police chief also noted that the AVL can potentially benefit the general public during situations when an officer is needed at a scene sooner than later.

“When dispatch is calling officers for an emergency call they will be able to pinpoint the units that are closest to save time,” said Davis.

Before including AVL systems in the 11 new patrol cars, Davis first consulted Marion County 911.

“They have been very supportive,” said the chief.

Another must-have piece of equipment the cars will come equipped with are in-vehicle cameras. And while HPD vehicles have included camera systems over the past decade and a half, the need for them has not diminished, according to Davis.

“Those are no longer a luxury. They have proven to be vital,” he said. “Those are very expensive, but they are a lot cheaper than a lawsuit.”

Davis reports that on average each patrol car in the current fleet has in excess of 120,000 miles on it. He estimates that about every four years over the past 17 years HPD has made a practice of cycling out all of its “high mileage and high maintenance vehicles.”

“Prior to that we were lucky to buy two or three a year and those vehicles were used to death. Within six months we did not have a healthy fleet, we just had new cars that were now broken down,” he said. “This way we have the reliability that the car is going to start and it is going to handle well in a pursuit.

“This has proven to be a very successful (regular fleet replacement) program.”

When the new cars arrive they will be ready for use.

“These will be turn-key vehicles,” said Davis. “That means when the new cars arrive we can hit the street with them. There is a considerable amount of equipment that goes in these vehicles and the down time to get that many vehicles equipped would handicap us in responding to calls.”

HPD’s new cars will be Dodge Chargers.

“The state patrol has them (Dodges) and we have actually checked theirs out. I have also talked to other departments that have the Chargers and they have been very satisfied with them. I don’t see any issues there,” said Davis.

Another major consideration in going with the Dodges is the cost.

“There was a considerable difference in the state bid price between (the Dodges and) the Ford Interceptors, which we have now,” said Davis. “My assumption on that is Dodge is trying very hard to get the police market and have really lowered those prices. The difference was significant enough I went with the Dodges this time.”

The state bid from Lou Fusz Dodge of O’Fallon was $457,670. In comparison the state bid from Lou Fusz Ford of Chesterfield was $478,781.

After trade-ins and a $108,500 down payment from the current HPD budget, the city winds up owing $297,170. A finance package to cover the remainder is expected to be presented at the Tuesday, Aug. 7, meeting of the City Council, which approved accepting the low quote at its July 17 meeting.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com