If something seems different about Mount Airy’s police cars these days, there’s a good reason for that.
The familiar Dodge Chargers manned by city officers over the past seven years have been joined by a new kid on the block, Ford-model police cruisers.
“We’re in the process of transitioning from the Dodge Charger to the Ford Interceptor,” Police Chief Dale Watson explained.
So far, two of the Interceptors have been integrated into the fleet containing nine sedans altogether.
“We’ve had them online for a couple of months now,” Watson said of the new models.
The Mount Airy Police Department has been equipped with the Dodge Chargers since 2010. Before that, from 1993 to 2009, the force ran Ford Crown Victorias. General Motors products also have been part of the equation, with city officers driving Chevrolet Caprice Classics before the Crown Vics came onto the scene.
Watson said the shift from Charger to Interceptor is resulting due to multiple reasons.
For one, as miles have accumulated on the Dodges, service has been “less reliable,” the police chief said.
In addition, a new-generation Ford Interceptor has come onto the market which conforms well to modern law enforcement needs, according to Watson.
“The new Interceptors are all-wheel-drive,” he said, with “very good” handling. “That’s more conducive to the different weather conditions that we constantly see.”
Mount Airy also has a satisfactory track record with the brand.
“We’ve always had good service out of Ford vehicles,” Watson said. “Ford has always been a solid vehicle base for us to use.”
Switching to the Interceptors was not a decision made lightly, however.
The local Scenic Ford dealership provided the police department with a new Interceptor to test and a thorough evaluation by driving instructors on the force and front-line officers produced good reviews.
“And we decided it was time to transition,” Watson said.
“We’ve been satisfied with the Interceptors and ultimately our whole fleet will be changed out,” he added. “Other departments had them before we did.”
The plan calls for adding more Ford Interceptors over time as part of the regular rotational process of replacing city police vehicles that reach the end of their service lives, the chief said.
“Budgetary considerations will affect us as well.”
The cost of the Ford Interceptors is a little higher than the Chargers — $26,856 compared to the $24,613 price of the last Dodge purchased in 2016, which Watson says is because of the Fords being all-wheel-drive.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.