Modern Cop Cars: The SUV

During the course of my career I have been issued a lot of equipment. Some of it has been good, some of it bad, and most of it somewhere in between. Regardless of where it falls on this scale, I either used it because it was free and available, or I dumped it in my closet and replaced it with something I liked better. The once piece of equipment I was forced to take and use daily was my patrol vehicle. It was also the one which faced the most scrutiny.

My first patrol vehicle was a Chevrolet Caprice. Oh how I loved that car. It was big. It was powerful. It was a beast. But, like every piece of equipment, it eventually reached the end of its life and need to be replaced. Although I was excited about being issued a shiny new mobile office, I was a bit disappointed to learn it would not be a Caprice. Instead, I was issued a Ford Crown Vic – the king of patrol cars. Over time I learned to love the Crown Vic almost as much as the Caprice. This was especially true after I found it necessary to punch the gas pedal the first time. It moved fast and handled well, at least as long as I was on dry pavement. This cycle would repeat itself every 4-5 years. I would turn in one vehicle, usually soon after I had finally learned where to store all my stuff, and start over with a new one. Some were good, other were better, but none met all my needs (or wants). That is until I was issued my first SUV.

When I was issued my first SUV, a Chevrolet Tahoe, I was not sure what to expect. I had been issued a pickup truck before with mixed results and I had heard the stories of SUVs not handling well in police applications. But I soon decided that this was not a pickup truck, and most of the rumors I heard were wrong. I loved that SUV and apparently so do a lot of other officers.

A growing number of departments are turning to SUVs to replace their aging fleet of sedans and the manufacturers are listening.

Chevrolet

TahoeThe Chevrolet Tahoe is one of the longest made police pursuit SUVs available, and the only pursuit rated SUV available. It is also the best-selling law enforcement vehicle in Chevrolet’s inventory.

One of the reasons the Tahoe is so popular is it BIG. The interior offers plenty of space to store gear, a full back seat, room for a full size cage or dog kennel and enough room to place multiple radios within arm’s reach. All while providing power, visibility and rugged construction without sacrificing comfort.

Ford

Ford was the undisputed leader in police vehicle sales, due in great part to the popular Crown Vic, and plans on repeating history in terms of pursuit SUVs. The Interceptor Utility, based upon the Explorer SUV, is designed from the ground up to be THE pursuit interceptor SUV.

Again, space is a key to the IUVs popularity. The base model is equipped with a 3.7 liter engine and is capable of carrying a payload in excess of 1600 lbs. With all the gear that needs to be carried by the average patrol officer, this is another reason BIG is better.

Chrysler

The Chrysler Group does not currently offer a pursuit rated SUV. However, Dodge does produce a Special Service version of the popular Durango. Although not rated for pursuit service the SS Durango does provide a viable option for rural patrol or other off road needs.  Equipped with heavy duty brakes, battery, electrical system and cooling system makes this an excellent choice when your duties take you off the beaten path.

With gas prices dropping and the amount of equipment officers need to carry rising it appears that SUVs will soon be the norm rather than the exception. I guess when it comes to modern patrol vehicles, size really does matter, and big wheels are making a comeback.

Disclaimer: The content in this article is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of US Patriot Tactical.

Tom Burrell

Tom enlisted in the US Marine Corps Reserves in 1987. Following service in Desert Storm, he transitioned to active duty with the US Coast Guard. In 1997 he left the USCG to pursue a position in conservation & maritime law enforcement. Tom is currently a Captain and he oversees several programs, including his agency investigation unit. He is also a training instructor in several areas including firearms, defensive tactics and first aid/CPR. In 2006 Tom received his Associate’s Degree in Criminal Justice from Harrisburg Area Community College and in 2010 a Bachelor’s Degree from Penn State University.
Tom Burrell
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