Three new Vidalia police cars soon to hit the road

Published 12:04 am Wednesday, September 19, 2012

LAUREN WOOD | THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — One of three brand new 2013 Ford Police Interceptor cars sits in the parking lot behind Vidalia Police Department. The three cars were acquired with a $70,000 grant through the Louisiana State Office of Community Development.

VIDALIA — Three new Vidalia Police Department cruisers will be on the streets in the coming weeks thanks to a grant through a state government assistance program.

The department purchased three white 2013 Ford Police Interceptor cars with a $70,000 grant through the Louisiana State Office of Community Development.

Approximately $10 million was allocated in Louisiana House Bill 2 of the 2012 regular legislative session for the state grant program, which included eligible activities like police protection, equipment, sewer and water, among other things.

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Since the cars arrived in August, Kay Radio and Electronics in Concordia Parish have been working to install lights, radios and other gadgets to prepare the cruisers for their first ride.

Police Chief Arthur Lewis said receiving the grant to purchase the new cruisers was a blessing in disguise.

“This opens up other avenues so we can use the money we saved to keep officers on staff, buy new equipment and other things,” Lewis said. “No money was taken from our budget or the city’s budget to pay for these cars, so it’s definitely a blessing.”

The three old patrol cars being replaced by the new cars were stripped of all equipment, which was then recycled into the new units, Lewis said.

“We’re not letting anything go to waste,” Lewis said. “That’s money we can save by using the equipment in the old cars in the new cars.”

Lewis said the three old patrol cars each had more than 100,000 miles accumulated and were becoming costly to maintain.

“It’s also a safety issue to have dependable cars for our officers,” Lewis said. “Our officers know the car is going to get them where they need to go, and the citizens know the officers are going to get to them quickly.”

And the officers shouldn’t have any trouble getting there quickly, as the cars are equipped with a 3.5L V6 engine with a six-speed transmission pushing out 288 horsepower.

The cars are also equipped to withstand a 75-mph rear impact, have front door panels able to withstand gunfire and have steel intrusion plates in the front seat backs in case handcuffs fail.

One of the cars will be patrolling the streets of Vidalia next week, Lewis said, while the other two will soon join the fleet after receiving final installations of steel cages and brush guards.