Local law-enforcement agencies are rolling out fleets of new Ford vehicles that have state-of-the-art technology but come in a more traditional-looking package.
Both Santa Fe city police and the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office have returned to traditional black-and-white markings on police squad cars and SUVs.
Santa Fe police are switching from all-white Chevy Impalas with red-and-blue markings to a new model that is almost identical to units purchased by the Santa Fe County Sheriff’s Office, which is replacing its silver Chevy Impalas.
Police Chief Ray Rael said last year, when his department began phasing in the black-and-white color scheme, that the design was chosen because of a federal Department of Homeland Security recommendation to standardize police vehicles around the country. Rael also has said the traditional black-and-white markings can serve as a deterrent to crime because the vehicles are more visible from a distance.
Other New Mexico police departments have already made the switch, including Albuquerque and Rio Rancho.
The Santa Fe Police Department this fiscal year is putting about 30 new units on the streets, at a cost of $1.4 million, according to Deputy Chief Jon Schaerfl. These include 16 marked 2013 Ford Explorers, seven marked 2013 Ford Taurus sedans, five unmarked Tauruses and two marked Dodge Chargers.
Sixteen of the new vehicles are now in use.
Schaerfl said the V-6 Taurus models get about 25 miles per gallon on the highway and average about 18 miles per gallon in the city. “They’re also the safest vehicles we’ve ever had,” he said.
The average cost of each city vehicle is about $40,000, Schaerfl said, which includes all of the necessities for a law-enforcement vehicle. In addition to standard features, the vehicles are equipped with a new rumble siren system that can make the ground shake when the sirens are activated, Schaerfl said.
Santa Fe County Undersheriff Ron Madrid said Wednesday that the county is rolling out 24 new vehicles this year, all Ford models. Of the 24, 16 will be Tauruses, three will be Explorers, one will be an F-150 animal control truck, and two will be unmarked Tauruses. The 2013 vehicles are costing the county about $798,000.
Madrid said county funds raised through auctions of forfeited vehicles will go toward repainting some of the older Impalas — and even some Ford Crown Victoria models — in the new black-and-white scheme.
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