Not Your Father's Fleet Vehicle—Is It?
Collingswood P.D. Lieutenant Dana Saxton has an appreciation for the borough's new police pursuit vehicle on many levels.
Collingswood Police Lt. Dana Saxton describes himself as a backyard mechanic who grew up with Corvettes, GTOs and other American muscle cars.
He’s not a thrill junkie—he’s not shy of the gas pedal either—but confessed a certain fondness for the newer Dodge Charger Pursuit police vehicles that Collingswood P.D. has rolled out in recent months.
Call it nostalgia; call it an incurable gear-head streak. As a law enforcement officer and auto enthusiast, it’s got to be fun to think that the latest incarnation of the General Lee is working for the other side.
But even if everything old is new again, these fleet vehicles aren’t exactly whistling “Dixie.” For one thing, they’re far shorter and lighter than their 1966 counterparts and get much better gas mileage.
Like their predecessors, however, the Pursuit Charger still has plenty of giddy-up. Powered by a 340-horsepower V8 Hemi engine, the car tops out at about 146 miles per hour, but with tires and suspension that enable smoother handling.
“For a 4,000-pound car, those are heavy-hitter numbers,” Saxton said.
The cruiser contains several built-in traffic safety features, including an LED light rack and push bar, as well as a full complement of policing necessities, like a computer terminal that offers on-board intelligence on warrants and other violations.
In the trunk, there’s a full-sized spare tire, a length of rope, road flares, and a first aid kit. All told, and including the computer equipment, which bears an additional cost, the state bid price for such a fleet vehicle comes in around $32,000.
Having new gear is great, and Saxton said the squad is “always concerned once it gets a ding”—which is why he and the staff at the borough garage do what they can to turn as many of their own wrenches as possible.
“That’s your office for 12 hours,” he said.
Keeping as much of the maintenance in-house also allows the department to preempt a lot of problems, sorting out little noises before they devolve into bigger problems. Of course, Saxton is careful not to oversell himself.
“I’m a step up from Jiffy Lube,” he laughed. “We can’t do the transmission or the computer. We can do tires, lube, pump leaks; I can play with the diagnostics.
“Then that big [repair] comes in that they didn’t expect, you saved,” he said.