HOPKINSVILLE, KY (3/8/12) – The Hopkinsville Police Department has added different types of wheels to its fleet. Two motorcycles have been on the streets for nearly six months. Now they have added eight Chevy Caprices for use on patrol.
Hopkinsville Police Chief Guy Howie says the new vehicles are part of a plan to bring down traffic collisions and concerns. He says he receives comments on traffic issues every time he is out in the community. Chief Howie says this is a topic that has the department’s attention, “We injure more people and do more property damage in a year with traffic accidents than all the violent crime and property crime combined.”
The department has adopted a data-driven approach to identifying high-collision areas. Howie says the motorcycles work much better at some locations where placing a patrol car would not be practical. He says the motorcycles, which are a designated traffic unit, have proven to be very successful since going into service last September. Chief Howie says Officers Jason Barnes and Mike Platero went through a selection process and attended an 80-hour police motorcycle training course before hitting the streets. They continue their training once every other week to keep their skills sharp. Howie says the officers are assigned cars that they can use if it is too cold or the weather is bad.
Howie told me when he first came to the department, the city chose to purchase used cars from the Missouri Highway Patrol as a temporary fix. When the latest need for vehicles came around, a committee was formed to look at options. This was made even more necessary since the Crown Victoria, which had been a staple for law enforcement for years, was no longer offered.
The Chevrolet Caprice was eventually chosen as the pursuit-rated vehicle that would best serve the officers of the HPD. Chief Howie says these are purpose-built police cars that are made in Australia and not available to the public. The cars are made with a heavy-duty suspension. Howie says they have a 6.0 liter V-8 engine with the new technology that allows them to go from four to six to eight cylinders as needed. “So, around town it’s either on four or six cylinders. When we’re running code or involved in a pursuit it’s running on eight cylinders,” says Howie. He adds that the cars have two separate electric systems. One runs the general operation of the vehicle and the second one is dedicated to power the radios, radars, computers, lights and other police equipment.
The new cars are also equipped with push bars on the front. Howie says this is a safety feature that provides added protection for the occupant and the vehicle. He says the bars will be a great safety feature to protect the car and driver from the impact of hitting a deer. Howie says the push bars cost around $200 and are well worth the investment. He says they are looking into retrofitting some of the newest cars in the fleet with this safety feature. As for the Caprices, Howie says the basic car costs a little over $24,000 before the police equipment is added.
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