Vehicle Research

LA County Sheriff Dept. Test Drives Police Vehicles

November 22, 2010

FONTANA, CA - The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department expanded its evaluation period to four days from one so police drivers could adequately test 21 patrol vehicles for its model-year 2011 evaluation.

The main phase of testing, which concluded Nov. 18, evaluated 14 sedans (including a converted CNG-fueled Ford CVPI), four motorcycles, and three sport-utility special service vehicles, according to Police Magazine.

The same vehicles tested by the Michigan State Police new entries included Ford's 2012 Police Interceptors, Chevrolet's 2011 Caprice PPV, and Kawasaki's Concours 14P motorcycle arrived in Fontana along with two rear-axle ratio 2011 Dodge Charger Pursuit cars, Honda's ST1300 motorcycle, and an alt-fuel conversion Ford Crown Victoria.

During the tests, each vehicle is driven 32 laps four police drivers each take the vehicles for eight laps around a 1.54-mile road course at the CSAA Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.

The LASD tests differ only slightly from the Michigan State Police's September evaluation. The LASD pushes vehicles to their limit by testing braking following high-speed operation. In past years, heated brakes have caught fire.

Since the MSP tests, Chrysler introduced two rear-axle ratios on its Dodge Charger Pursuit a lower 3.06 for a harder launch and higher 2.65 for improved fuel efficiency. Officers attending the testing from Oregon's Albany PD and Eugene PD also credited Chrysler for improving rear visibility on the vehicle, and said the V-6 Pentastar engine would be popular with smaller municipal agencies.

"If you're a smaller agency, that V-8 is not going to save you a lot of time on calls," said Sgt. Jerry Drum of the Albany PD. "When agencies look at it, they want the most bang for their buck."

Among the motorcycles tested, agency drivers said they liked the variety of choice now available, said Officer John Poland of the Los Angeles Police Department's Motor Training Unit.

With its S curves and negative camber turns, the track offers a fairly realistic test of driving conditions motor officers face, said Poland, who said he reached 110 mph on several bikes.

"You probably won't fire a bike off faster than that," Poland said. "The turns are more of the stuff you'd face out there [on patrol]."

The LASD will publish the final results of the tests in early 2011 in a report mailed to law enforcement fleet managers and published on the LASD website.

By Paul Clinton

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