New patrol cars for Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office
GONZALES - The Ascension Parish Sheriff's Office is rolling out older units and making way for new ones.
Due to mileage as well as wear and tear, 20 Ford Crown Victorias will be decommissioned and sold at auction. They will be replaced with 20 new Dodge Chargers, which cost $22,500 each.
"In 2011, we were faced with a situation where Ford no longer produced the Crown Vic's, which held about 70 percent of the police market nationwide when it came to vehicles. So we were forced to look at other options," Lt. Col. Bobby Webre said.
It's not all about speed, horsepower and muscle anymore. The sheriff's office looked for better brakes, wider seats, more airbags, comfort for their deputies, larger radiators and alternators, and a new look.
The Dodge Charger also gets better gas mileage than the aging Crown Victoria's. Consumer Reports lists the Charger getting up to 31 mpg on the highway and 19 in the city, which beats the Crown Vic by up to ten miles per gallon.
"We felt this vehicle would offer the performance that we needed. Safety and maintenance was extremely important to us," Webre said.
With the new and changing fleet, 95 percent of all work on the cars will be done by the sheriff's office. Eventually, they will completely phase out the rest of the 79-unit fleet and replace old units with new ones.
Residents can expect to see the new cars on Ascension Parish roads early next year.