UNION — The City of Union Department of Public Safety will buy five new Tahoes, staying $6,005 below budget.
Chief Sam White presented the Union City Council with information regarding the purchase of new vehicles during this week’s council meeting.
Law enforcement agencies everywhere were left to shop for a replacement model for patrol vehicles after Ford discontinued its Crown Victoria this year. During the public safety department’s budgeting process in the spring, funds were approved to buy five Chevrolet Caprices.
However, after White and Capt. Gregg Pickens made a trip to look at several vehicles bought by the Rock Hill Police Department — and discuss them with Rock Hill officers — they decided to go with another model.
“They (Rock Hill Police Department) bought Caprices, and they have had nothing but trouble with them,” White said, adding that officers said they have experienced water leaks as well as trouble finding parts for the vehicles.
The Caprices are manufactured in Australia, where the driver is on the right side of the car rather than the left, which means that when an American-style dash is installed in the car, the driver will have less room. Also, all equipment would have to be put in the back of the car, which would force the department to spend $450 per vehicle to adapt radios to the back.
White said between the visit to Rock Hill and a Police Chief Convention held in Myrtle Beach, he had looked at a variety of police vehicles including Chargers, Caprices and Tahoes. After comparing the models, he was confident in the Ford Tahoe.
“We had budgeted $26,489 because we thought we would be interested in the Caprice, but we’re more interested in this Tahoe, which is $1,201 cheaper,” White told city council. “I was very impressed with the Tahoe. It has a longer warranty, and the gas mileage is where you want it to be.”
White said the Rock Hill officers showed him the Tahoes they bought, which sit lower to the ground than civilian models, offering more stability. There is also plenty of room in the front for mounting a shotgun and rifle, so officers would not have to keep those weapons in the trunk.
White explained that the department was already experiencing problems having enough room in the vehicles. He said it was difficult enough to get willing passengers in and out of cars, but especially difficult when it comes to combative criminals. White said the back seat would be removed and a plastic seat designed for prisoners would be installed, giving passengers plenty of room.
The vehicle’s fuel management system also saves on fuel costs. When the car is parked and sitting idle, it only uses four cylinders.
Pickens said the Rock Hill officers pointed out other advantages of the Tahoe, such as the rear door can provide a rain shelter for officers when raised.
“The Tahoe would also generate a greater resale value than any other vehicle we looked at,” Pickens added.
The public safety department will buy five of the Tahoes at $25,288 each, saving a total of $6,005 from the amount allotted in this year’s budget.
White said he expects the vehicles to arrive by February or March.
Staff Writer Derik Vanderford can be reached at 864-427-1234, ext. 29, or by email at email@example.com.