BPD purchases 13 new cruisers

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Photo by Silas Chisam

A brand new 2020 Ford Utility Hybrid waits in the parking lot of the Bellevue Police Department to be outfitted with lights, equipment and decals. “I like the way they look. I was a little skeptical, or should I say, I guess skeptical of the whole hybrid type of vehicle and I still am,” Bellevue Police Ofc. Shaun Manning said.

The Bellevue Police Department has 90 sworn law enforcement officers and about 50 cruisers that serve about 53,000 citizens and 16.73 square miles.

As the department uses their older vehicles and their miles rack up, it becomes time to purchase new vehicles and equipment. This is where the 2020 Ford Utility Hybrid rolls in.

“As older cruisers mile out, new ones are needed. We try and replace our vehicles between 80,000 and 100,000 miles,” Bellevue Police Capt. Tom Dargy said. “Our vehicles idle more than a normal vehicle so the wear and tear is much greater on these vehicles. For every 1 hour of idle time, it equals 33 miles of driving.”

One cruiser has 4,090 idling hours which equals 134,970 additional miles of driving for that cruiser. That wear and tear alone is a good reason to be replacing the old cars with new ones.

“I go over the mileage sheet of our cruisers every few months and if needed shift officers to other cruisers to adjust. Once a cruiser is identified as being close to our mileage threshold, it is placed on a list. That list is then turned into a budget request to the city on our Capitol Improvement Project,” Dargy said. “Once that is approved, I then prepare a detailed report and supporting documentation to the City Council asking them to approve the request. Once they approve it, I then order the vehicles from the dealer, which is affiliated with the State Bid.”

The number of marked units the department has available can fluctuate depending on vehicle maintenance, accidents and when the department trades out cruisers.

“We try to maintain 50 marked units which provides enough cars for 4 full Shifts, K-9, School Resource Officers, Supervisors, Traffic Unit and our Special Services Unit,” Dargy said.

One of the 13 new cruisers is unmarked and is used by the Bellevue Police’s Special Services Unit. This unmarked variant of the cruiser blends in with traffic and assists the department with enforcement.

“The new Ford SUV that I drive is great. There are so many SUV’s on the road it blends in very well,” Bellevue Police Ofc. Chris Abbott said. “With it being unmarked, it has been a great asset to curbing traffic violations.”

The Bellevue Police try to reuse as much equipment as possible in their newer cars in an attempt to reduce the overall cost for the cars.

“As we move from Dodge Chargers and Ford Crown Victoria’s to the new Fords Utilities, equipment such as prisoner transport cages are not able to be used, so that must be purchased new. Each piece of equipment is closely scrutinized and we try to carry over as much equipment as possible,” Dargy said.

If the equipment cannot be moved from one vehicle to another they find a replacement. All of the police vehicles have the same technology inside.

“The new cruisers have the same equipment as all the other cruisers. This includes: radar, computer, E-ticket, shotgun, PBT, and Watch Guard cruiser video with body camera,” Abbott said.

The new cruisers were a purchase that was approved by the Bellevue City Council back in January of 2019 and were expected to be delivered by July of 2019. This was before Ford ran into problems fulfilling their order pushing back the delivery date.

“The vehicle we ordered was the Ford Utility Hybrid which is basically the Police version of the Ford Explorer. The order was part of the State of Nebraska Bid on pricing. The vehicles were purchased for $34,371.00 each.” Dargy said. “The average cost for upfitting the car with a cruiser camera, computer tablet and emergency equipment, radios, prisoner cage, etc., is approximately  $20,000.00.”

The Ford Utility Hybrid uses its Hybrid technology to save power and fuel. When the car detects that it is not going fast enough or doing enough to justify using the engine, for instance at a stop light, it will shut off, running on only battery power, much like many other Hybrid cars on the road.

“The engines will shut off after when you come up to a stop light, if you’re breaking, it’ll shut off and if you’re just driving around a parking lot, it just runs on battery power,” Bellevue Police Ofc. Shaun Manning said. “It’s like a golf cart. And when you actually get on, it it kicks on; it takes some getting used to.”

This version of the Ford Explorer has several perks when compared to the civilian version of the Ford Explorer. These perks are in place to help aid the department to saving more money.

“The new vehicles are the Hybrids which is estimated by Ford to save roughly $3,800 a year per vehicle on gas based on $3.00 a gallon. The bigger value for the department is the additional battery power these give us,” Dargy said.
“We currently have cruiser video cameras and computers that can quickly draw down a normal car battery. Our non-hybrid vehicles currently have two car batteries in them and we still experience battery failure, especially in the winter months.”