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Plant City Observer Thursday, Oct. 11, 2018 5 days ago

PCPD’s new wheels

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This year, PCPD is adding some Dodge Chargers to its fleet.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

If you’re cruising over the speed limit, there’s a very good chance you may be pulled over by an unfamiliar Plant City police car.

Approximately $378,000 of PCPD’s annual budget, which totals $10,935,958 this fiscal year, is going toward purchasing 12 new vehicles for the force. The department is in desperate need of new wheels and while it usually replaces its aging fleet with a Ford Taurus, that simply wasn’t on the table this year.

“We got a notice several months ago that Ford put out that if we wished to continue to buy the police Interceptor on the Taurus platform that we would have to order prior to Sept. 1,” Chief Ed Duncan said. “What that meant was for us to do that we would have had to do a budget adjustment, our funds do not come until Oct. 1 so it was out of cycle for our fiscal year.”

He then found out Ford would soon be switching to hybrids, which invoked some unease for Duncan. While he has no issue with hybrids, he said statistically it takes “a while for them to tweak it” to perfection. He didn’t want to spend the money on a police vehicle that he couldn’t be sure would be perfect. Rather than go through the complicated process he had a meeting with the fleet manager and began to look for alternatives.

The Dodge Charger is a proven favorite for law enforcement. Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office has been

Courtesy of HCSO. For years HCSO has used Dodge Chargers as some of its fleet vehicles.

using Chargers for years. They told Duncan mechanically they’ve had no issues, so he said it made sense for PCPD to go that route.

The color scheme for the cars will be identical to the current police vehicles. The cars are smaller, which Duncan said isn’t ideal for teams that carry a lot of equipment, so PCPD is using a portion of the fleet funds to buy four Dodge Durango Special Service vehicles. They will be assigned to the patrol supervisors and will be perfect for the department in any instances of bad weather and storms.

“A lot of agencies across the United States are gong to full-size SUVs for their patrol officers anyway because of just the fact of all of the equipment that is being carried and the amount of space that’s in the cabin for the officers to operate out of,” Duncan said. “A lot of agencies are looking at them for their FTO programs, Field Training Officer programs, because there’s always two officers in those cars and it’s hard to put two full-size men in those small compartments.”

City commissioners approved the purchase of eight Dodge Chargers and four Dodge Durangos Monday night. The base price for the Chargers is lower than that of the Taurus, which allowed PCPD to add an additional car and stay approximately $7,300 under the allocated budget.

Each Charger, along with the emergency equipment, radio installation and PCPD vinyl graphics, runs at $31,350. The Durangos, along with emergency equipment and radio installation, are $29,964.

The vehicles will replace those nearing the end of their serviceable life. Duncan said this lets them “flush out the old fleet with new cars” and keeps his officers at the top of their game.

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