Council to consider purchase of six police package SUVs

Staff photo / Enlarge
Fayetteville uses one Chevy Tahoe as a police canine unit and is considering purchasing six more for the police department.

Update (3/1/11, 6:30 p.m): This item was approved unanimously by the City Council along with all other items on Tuesday night’s consent agenda.

The Fayetteville City Council will consider purchasing six police package Chevrolet Tahoe vehicles during Tuesday night’s council meeting.

The city’s fleet division has not purchased replacement police vehicles for two years due to budget restraints, but officials say it’s critical that six units be purchased in 2011.

For years, police departments all over the country used the Ford Crown Victoria to shuttle officers around town, but with the recent discontinuation of the iconic Crown Vic, cities have been forced to look elsewhere.

Fayetteville fleet superintendent Dennis Pratt said that since Ford has not yet released a certified replacement for the Crown Vic, his choices are limited when deciding on new models.

Two years ago, the city purchased two Dodge Chargers, but Pratt recently told council members that he doesn’t recommend purchasing any more.

“We’ve run our two Dodge Chargers for about a year now and we’re having some issues with them, so we decided to make a change,” said Pratt at last week’s council agenda session.

FPD Dodge Charger

The Chargers have had transmission problems and their low ground clearance has resulted in an ongoing bottoming out issue which makes them expensive in terms of repair costs. Plus, Pratt said Fayetteville’s police officers are unsatisfied with the Chargers’ acceleration.

“We’re not looking at the top end (speed),” said Pratt, “We want the zero to thirty when an officer is stopped alongside the road and has to enter the traffic.”

As far as the other vehicles on the market, Pratt said that Chevy’s Impala is too small for full-time use and that the Caprice’s shifter is on the floor which is where the city normally installs police radio consoles.

“So that leaves us with the Chevy Tahoe,” said Pratt.

Despite the fact that the Tahoe is considered an SUV, Pratt said the model he’s recommending gets better gas mileage than the Crown Vic. He also said he believes the Tahoe has a longer life expectancy, a higher resale value, and lower maintenance costs than both the Crown Vic and the Dodge Charger.

“The State of Louisiana, where I got a lot of my maintenance reports, they have 200 of them and they’re buying 50 to 60 a year right now,” said Pratt. “Their maintenance costs are 8 percent less than the Crowns.”

City staff research comparison

VehicleAvg. MileageAvg. Cost*LengthWidthHeight
Ford Crown Vic10 MPG$1,209/mo212″78″58″
Dodge Charger13 MPG$1,181/mo199″75″58″
Chevy Tahoe11.5 MPG$976/mo202″79″74″

* Maintenance, replacement, overhead, insurance as reported by City of Fayetteville staff.

Flyer staff research comparison

Ford Crown Vic16 MPG24 MPG19 MPG
Dodge Charger18 MPG27 MPG21 MPG
Chevy Tahoe15 MPG21 MPG17 MPG

* Standard 2011 stats as reported by

Ward 3 Alderman Bobby Ferrell said he recently drove one of the Chargers and even though he had recommended purchasing them two years ago, he is now against the idea.

Watch the council agenda discussion

“The thing that really changed my mind was when I sat in there and I looked behind me,” said Ferrell. “You don’t have very good visibility out of there. Our officers’ safety should be number one.”

Ferrell said he wasn’t endorsing the idea that the entire fleet be replaced with Tahoes, but he was comfortable buying six of them now and re-evaluating the vehicles later.

Council members Brenda Thiel, Sarah Lewis and Adella Gray each agreed with Ferrell and spoke in favor of the SUV purchase.

“It’s a good tool,” said Lewis, “and the fuel efficiency is not signifcantly different enough to even consider as a decision point.”

“I certainly support this,” said Thiel. “I feel confident that there’s been a lot of research done.”

The issue was placed on the consent agenda for Tuesday night’s meeting.

If the item is passed, the city will spend $200,250 to purchase the six vehicles from Bale Chevrolet in Little Rock.

» Watch the entire council agenda discussion about this item

» View the agenda packet info for this item