Dodge Chargers are replacing Crown Victorias
If you see flashing lights in your rearview mirror, they probably won't be coming from the checkerboard-patterned King City police cars that area residents are used to seeing.
Two of the city's Crown Victorias have been replaced by 2013 Dodge Chargers with new logos on them, leaving just one Crown Victoria at least until January.
"For our work in a relatively small area, the Dodge Chargers have all the oomph you want with V-6 engines," said King City police Chief Chuck Fessler, adding that officers routinely put 15,000 to 16,000 miles per year on police vehicles.
The cars arrived in early August and feature such innovations as keyless entry and keyless start, according to Fessler. Police vehicles come with options for lights and sirens, so only the existing computers and radios had be installed.
"Everyone was required to drive one for one shift or at least part of a shift," said Fessler, adding that the department always has two or three cruisers available for its four-officer squad plus an all-weather Tahoe. "Sometimes one can be in the shop."
Economics played a big role in acquiring the new vehicles: "These have five-year leases, and at the end of the time period, you can purchase them for $1 or trade them in," Fessler said. "There is a big secondary market for used police cars. All they do is steam off the logo, and they're ready to go. We split the mileage among the vehicles because in the long run, that saves money.
"The Crown Victorias had three-year leases, and we can lease three Dodge Chargers instead of two Crown Victorias for the same price. We got three bids before leasing them."
Fessler is reluctantly relinquishing the old checkered patrol cars, saying that the pattern was a favorite of his.
"It attracted attention, and the paint glowed in the dark," he said. "Some people liked them, and some didn't. But the new cars have a more sculpted look, and the new paint job fits matches the lines on the doors.
"I think police officers should be visible, and police cars should be visible. With the new design, people will think we have more cars than we really do."