The Des Plaines Police Department is on track to get seven new SUVs. Four of the 2013 Police Interceptor SUVs, which are customized Ford Explorers, will replace squad cars as part of the fleets’ annual rotation, and three will replace squad cars damaged during flooding in July 2011, said Tim Doherty, fleet coordinator, in an interview with Patch.
City council approved the purchase of new equipment for the SUVs, which were approved in June, at a meeting on Monday. Equipment for the vehicles will include emergency lighting, light controllers, siren speakers, push bumper kits, secure-idle ignitions and prisoner compartments, according to city documents.
At the meeting, Sixth Ward Alderman Mark Walsten asked Police Chief William Kushner what “flooded cars” meant.
“Apparently these are cars that people decided were more submarine than Ford, and tried to drive through the floods,” Kushner said. “This all happened before I got here sir.”
One of the reasons the Ford SUVs were selected was Ford’s Crown Vic model was no longer produced, Doherty said. He said compared with the standard Ford Explorer, the Police Interceptor SUVs have improved braking, suspension and other modifications.
“The biggest thing is that they’re all wheel drive,” Doherty said. “Especially in the snow, it’s going to help our officers get to calls and get around town more safely.”
Doherty said the larger squad car SUVs would also give officers the ability to transport more equipment in their vehicles including ballistic shields, rifles, traffic cones, flares and more.
City council will vote on funding for computers for the squad cars at its next meeting, and residents will likely start seeing the Police Interceptor SUVs on the road in mid-November, Doherty said.
The new SUVs will replace older units, and the department’s fleet of marked patrol cars will remain at its current size of 21 vehicles, Doherty said. Each year they replace a number of vehicles rather than all at once.
Doherty said they generally operate squad cars for three years before either repurposing them for less demanding police or city service, or auction them if they are beyond their useful service life.
The city received a quote for $37,249 from Havey Communications, based in Lake Bluff, for the removal of the old equipment and installation of the new equipment for four Police Interceptor SUVs, according to a letter sent from Mike Kozak, deputy chief of police, to Michael Bartholomew, city manager on Sept. 7. Funding will come from the city’s Equipment Replacement Fund.
Havey Communications quoted the removal of old equipment and installation of new equipment in the three SUVs that replace the squad cars damaged in the flood at $28,491, according to another memo from Kozak to Bartholomew. Funding for this equipment will come from the asset forfeiture fund, which is money seized by police during criminal investigations and cleared by the courts for the department’s use.