Sheriff Stan Sniff’s request to purchase 359 Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors — which are in their last year of production — was approved today by Riverside County supervisors, though not without questions about the cost of such a large-scale order.
The sheriff intends to buy 99 Crown Victorias in the current fiscal year, another 135 next year and 125 the year after that — at a total annual cost of $2.14 million, according to sheriff’s department documents.
Bids will be solicited from Ford dealerships throughout the region.
According to sheriff’s officials, the acquisition of so many patrol units guarantees consistent use of the Crown Vics in the sheriff’s fleet for the next three to four years.
Officials said continuing with the same vehicle line will save money as old patrol units are retired and their parts recycled and installed in the newer cars.
Assistant Sheriff Lee Wagner said push bars, light bars and radio equipment adapted to the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor can be continuously rotated.
By comparison, he said, fitting the parts to different cars would drive up costs as much as $$5,600 per vehicle.
Meadowbrook resident Gary Grant complained about the high cost of the fleet purchase and questioned why the sheriff”s department should continue using the gas guzzling Crown Vics when more fuel-efficient models were on the market.
Supervisor John Tavaglione, a former Riverside police reserve officer, praised the Ford product for its “safety and longevity.”
“It will last a number of years despite the beating it takes in the field,” the supervisor said.
Even though he ended up supporting the purchase, Supervisor Jeff Stone agreed that it was past time for the sheriff’s department to “look at transitioning into another vehicle.”
“We need to look at alternatives,” he said. “There are smaller vehicles that can be used for transporting prisoners.”
According to the sheriff’s department, possible replacement vehicles, including the Chevrolet Caprice and Dodge Charger, will be purchased and field-tested over the next couple of years.