Vidalia police get new cars

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 14, 2009

VIDALIA — Stimulus money is rolling through Vidalia — literally, with four wheels and a V8 engine.

The Vidalia Police Department recently received eight 2010 Dodge Chargers, patrol cars funded by law enforcement grants through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Getting new cars is something a police department has to do routinely, Police Chief Ronnie G. “Tapper” Hendricks said.

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“Our cars were falling to pieces,” he said. “I was having to put new transmissions in, they’re over 100,000 miles — we had some worn out cars.”

Until now, the vast majority of the department’s patrol cars were Ford Crown Victorias.

“Everybody knows about the Crown Victorias, and they are good cars, but I have been watching the Chargers for a long time,” Hendricks said.

“Out of curiosity, I was asking around to everyone who had them, and I couldn’t find anybody who talked bad about them.”

The only negative thing he has heard about the Chargers was about wear on the braking system, Hendricks said.

“Any law enforcement agency is going to be hard on the brakes,” he said.

The Chargers are a couple of thousand dollars cheaper than a Crown Victoria, and have a better fuel efficiency, he said.

When the new cars were originally ordered, they were for 2009 model Chargers, but when the dealership that had the state contract changed, the Vidalia order was lost.

“Our order got misplaced, and we were calling and inquiring about our cars, and they had to reorder them,” Hendricks said. “When they had to reorder, they were making the 2010 models.”

The police equipment in the cars — radio equipment and light bars — was purchased with funds from a separate grant, Hendricks said.