GRANDVIEW - The difference is between night and day, according to several of the officers in the Grandview Police Department.
"I can't see how other police departments wouldn't eventually go there," said Sgt. Mike Hopp of the Grandview police of the three new Dodge Chargers the department purchased two weeks ago. "They have better stopping power, handle better, are more comfortable and are all-around a better car than the Crown Victoria."
The department already had five Ford Crown Victorias in its fleet when it was decided to give the new Dodge Charger a chance. The department could choose between the Crown Vics, Chevy Impalas or the Chargers. A vote by the officers of the Grandview department tilted towards the Chargers, so that's the direction they went.
"The guys are pumped about them," Assistant Police Chief Mark Ware said. "I think they look pretty sharp."
Dave Charvet, the police chief, added, "The officers voted on them. The new cars handle good and have a lot of power."
The three new Chargers bring the Grandview Police Department's fleet up to eight cars.
"We now have seven road cars we can use," Hopp explained, one of the Crown Vics is used by the school resource officer.
The cost of the new vehicles was approximately $28,000 for each, said Charvet. Ware added they were approximately $1,500 more than the Crown Vics.
The department did some research before deciding to purchase the new cars. Hopp said he visited the Washington State Patrol office in Kennewick, where the WSP has one Charger in use.
"The guy told me the Dodge was a hands down better vehicle," Hopp said. "We thought we'd give it a shot and sure enough."
Officer Ron Schneider said he did some research himself and found an independent study that tested all of the different types of police cars. The Charger outperformed each car in every test except the braking distance, and that was attributed to the heavier 6.1 liter Hemi engine. Grandview's cars have 5.7 liter Hemi engines in them.
Hopp said the Charger is based more on a sports car instead of the Crown Vic, which is more of a family sedan.
"When need be, it's more efficient for police use," Hopp added.
The reaction from the public?
"The kids love them," Hopp said. "What's the word they use...sick."
He said even guys being transported to court or jail seemed to enjoy riding in the new cars.
"I heard one comment from a kid who said he wanted to get pulled over by one," Hopp added jokingly. "There has been a positive reaction from the public."
Whether or not the other five squad cars will eventually be replaced by the new Chargers is still up in the air.
"We'll have a couple of years to try them out and see how they perform," Charvet said. "This is a trial basis."
Ware said the department also wanted to see if there would be a difference in maintenance cost between the two cars.
. Corey Russell can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org