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New-Look Vernon Police Cruisers are Roomier, More Practical

Three new SUVs are now at headquarters.

The Town's three new police cars represent two things:

• Practicality.

• A changing trend in required equipment.

All three are Ford sport utility vehicles. One has been on the road for nearly a month - being used by a sergeant. The other two are being fitted with the necessary equipment.

That traditionally means lights, radios, a rear cage, a computer and that sort of stuff. But other equipment that is currently being stuffed into the trunks of Crown Victorias and Dodge Chargers - like a ballistic shield and battering ram - pushed Vernon police to move toward the SUV.

Capt. Stephen Clark of the Vernon Police Department said the SUVs cost $26,600 each, $2,000 more than the Ford Taurus sedans currently being offered after the Crown Victorias were discontinued.

The Taurus and Charger interiors can also be tight for taller officers.

He said it was more practical to purchase the SUVs because the added room makes it much easier to pack and remove equipment from the cargo area.

Public Information Officer Lt. William Meier also pointed to a practical reason.

"The hills of Rockville," he said.

Meier said the steep hills in Rockville often make patrols treacherous in the sedans - even with chains.

Meier added that chains not nobly take time to be put in the tires, but slow down the cruisers. The all-wheel-drive feature of the SUV provide added traction without chains, he said.

The SUVs come with a complete pursuit package, Meier said, making them capable of performing well in chase situations.

In an interview shortly after the Newtown school shootings, Police Chief James Kenny said the battering rams and ballistic shields are part of the new "active shooter" scenarios which essentially force the police to go into buildings after the shooters.

New cruisers have been financed through used vehicle sale proceeds, funds designated for replacement and the capital non-recurring account.

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