The University Police Department recently made a request to purchase two new Ford Crown Victoria Police Cruisers. According to Craig Hutchinson, vice president of Student Life, the Ford Explorer in Gorham and the Ford Crown Victoria in Portland are both beginning to have maintenance problems and need to be replaced.
According to the Ford web page, the Ford Crown Victoria Police model, called the Police Interceptor, comes standard with 4.6 liter V8 engine that pumps out 239 horsepower. That is just a few horses shy of a Ford Mustang and enough power to chase down any evader. But since the USM police department patrols just USM buildings and campuses and is restricted by University Policy from engaging in high-speed chases, the Office of Environmental and Economic Sustainability has expressed concern over the proposal.
An e-mail written by Dudley Greeley, the Environmental and Economic Sustainability coordinator, to the Free Press and Craig Hutchinson said, “Particularly given the current budget situation, USM should be making every possible effort to match absolute transportation requirements with the lowest impact choice of vehicle. Going across campus or even to Portland Hall to do a building check does not require a high powered vehicle.”
According to Craig Hutchinson, the committee created to choose the new vehicle considered the environmental impact and cost of the vehicle, but was also required to find a vehicle with the necessary security and safety options.
According to the committee report, large campuses like USM have evolved and now require the same security and safety features as municipal police departments. The USM police department made 51 criminally -related transports last year and had one instance of a detainee breaking the back window.
Hutchinson agreed that the large engine is not necessary, but said it is the only engine size available in a model that includes the required safety and security features.
“The engine in the vehicle is the least important issue,” he said. “The environmentalists and the vehicle manufacturers (of police vehicles) have not got on the same page yet.”
In Greeley’s e-mail, he pointed out that the Department of Facilities Management (DFM) motor pool now has three hybrid cars available for use that are much more fuel efficient. Purchased over the summer, these Honda Civic Hybrids get over 50 miles per gallon and cost just under $20,000 a piece, where the Ford Interceptors cost $28,000. According to Susan Holmes, the Motor Pool Administrator for DFM, the three new cars replaced two older Ford Tauruses that were recently sold.
By purchasing the Honda Hybrids instead of new Tauruses, DFM saved money on the initial cost of the vehicles and will save even more over the long term on gas and be much more environmentally friendly at the same time. According to the Ford web page, a new Taurus has a base price of $20,490 and $24,435, depending on the model. These prices are before any taxes or incentives are applied. None of the Taurus models get more than 26 miles per gallon, half as much as the Honda Hybrids.
President Pattenaude recently challenged the University to make wiser choices in regards to sustainability in his recent action plan titled, Transforming USM. Greeley hopes that the University Police Department can meet these challenges like DFM has begun to do, but until manufacturers make police cruisers that are more fuel efficient, the task will not be possible.
Tyler Stanley can be contacted at [email protected]