The New Orleans Police Department began issuing the first batch of new patrol vehicles to officers in four years, after the City Council provided vehicle replacement funds in the 2013 budget.
The department issued the first of the 100 new police vehicles in November, said Sgt. Willie Davis, the City of New Orleans' police fleet manager. The agency issued 20 unmarked Ford Police Interceptor sedans to detectives and 30 marked Ford Police Interceptor Utility SUVs to patrol officers.
The agency has received 49 of the 80 P.I. Utility vehicles purchased. After receiving the marked SUVs from Ford, the agency sends the vehicles to several upfitters—Vehicle Ports/Headquarters 911 and Crescent Decal Specialists—for emergency lighting, partitions, and other equipment.
"We're replacing cars because we have an older fleet," said Davis. "We're having mechanical problems with the older vehicles. Some of our vehicles have over 100,000 miles. We try to replace cars every five years depending on the city's budget."
The New Orleans PD, which is now under federal monitoring, maintains a fleet of 1,070 cars, trucks, motorcycles, and undercover vehicles. The marked enforcement fleet consists of 583 units, which have mostly been Ford Crown Victorias.
Prior to purchasing the Ford vehicles, the New Orleans PD evaluated several other vehicles including the Chevrolet Impala and Dodge Charger Pursuit.
"We thought the Ford gave us the best bang for our buck," Davis said. "With our streets we thought that would be the vehicle that would hold up for us."
On Nov. 21, the City Council approved the 2014 budget that included funds for 100 additional police vehicles. The budget also includes $65 million for street repairs.
By Paul Clinton