HOWELL – You might not realize that many police officers have two offices. They are always on the move, whether it is patrolling neighborhoods, schools, or responding to calls for service, which is why their second “office” is actually their police vehicle.
Howell Police recently added new “mobile offices” to their fleet, replacing older police vehicles with a set of five 2019 Dodge Chargers.
According to Howell Police Sergeant David Levine, the department was in the process of purchasing five Ford Explorers to be added to the fleet when the order fell through.
“Ford unexpectedly advised us our order was being pulled and they would not be delivering those units. This occurred several weeks after completing all the necessary paperwork and submitting the purchase order to the Ford dealership who held the state contract,” Sgt. Levine told Jersey Shore Online.
The department’s purchase order was cut, along with thousands of others nationwide, Levine added.
This news came as a surprise to the department, setting them back several months in time and energy spent “researching and building specs for these vehicles.” After some collaboration with Police Chief Andrew Kudrick, a decision was made to opt for the Dodge Chargers.
The 2019 Dodge Charger package that the department purchased was actually a more cost effective option, saving the department over $1,000 per vehicle. The Ford Explorer Police Interceptor vehicle was priced at $26,826 and the Dodge Charge Police Package was priced at $25,185.74, said Levine.
The total cost of “building” a police vehicle varies due to make and model and equipment, but most often ranges from $50,000 – $60,000, he said. The vehicles are painted to look like a typical police car and then loaded with the necessary equipment.
Howell Police vehicles are pained by Howell-based Atlantic Auto Body and equipped by Lakewood-based Elite Vehicle Solutions.
Sgt. Levine broke down the cost of building the vehicles once delivered:
- Adding the black and white paint scheme: $900 – $1,000 per vehicle
- Graphics: $495 per vehicle
- Emergency equipment installation (emergency lights, siren, prisoner cages, computer docks and networking, camera systems, and radar unit): approximately $13,000 per vehicle
Should a vehicle be built for K9 applications, the price would be more expensive to account for the additional K9 equipment, Levine added.
“There is equipment not provided by the installer which we provide such as the vehicles in-car camera system, Watchguard ($7,500), In car computer ($4,000), electronic ticketing system ($1,200), cellular modem ($1,300) and the Stalker Radar ($3,500) to name a few,” Levine said.
The price comparison between the Ford and Dodge vehicles is not the only difference found in the switch. The Ford Explorers are SUVs (sport utility vehicles) and the Dodge Chargers are sedans.
“The Dodge Charger also has all-wheel drive and handles much different than an SUV,” said Levine.
While the additional police vehicles may be newer and nicer than older ones, the purpose has always been to provide the best possible service to township residents.
“All businesses have a need for some type of tools, equipment or resources in order to provide their customer with a good or service. Police work is no different. We provide a number of services to our community and our officers utilize their patrol cars not only as form of transportation but as roving office,” said Levine. “These vehicles are used in all different weather conditions and are often run for several shifts a day. It’s not uncommon for a patrol vehicle to be used for periods of 18 hours or more straight.”
Due to this, police vehicles endure a lot of wear and tear and can be worn down a lot faster than your average car. When police vehicles reach the end of their lifespan, they get rotated out of patrol use and are re-purposed to other police divisions, Levine explained.