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Medford police cross over to Ford

Medford speeders and criminals on the lookout for police have a whole new light pattern to memorize.

The Medford Police Department put its first Ford Interceptor SUV into service this week, replacing the Medford K9 unit's 2008 Ford Crown Victoria, which Lt. Justin Ivens said was on its "last legs."

Nine more of the crossover vehicles will make their way into Medford's 40-vehicle patrol fleet, according to Ivens, one of two lieutenants who oversee Medford's patrol unit.

Reasons behind the switch include better space utilization and costs to maintain the agency's current fleet of Dodge Charger sedans, according to documents from the July 15 Medford City Council meeting.

Police are phasing in the new vehicles some four to six months early to save maintenance costs and avoid a roughly 4 percent increase in prices in the 2018 model year.

"The overwhelming vehicle maintenance cost and the limited vehicle interior space has caused us to move away from the Dodge Charger," a police document said.

The base vehicles sell for $35,140 each, but through a competitive bidding process the 10 vehicles will cost $285,670 from Power Ford-Lincoln of Newport. Once the vehicles are painted and equipped for duty, each car costs around $50,000, Ivens said.

Installation of radios, light bars, sirens and mounting hardware for a patrol officer's computer will be performed by Wire Works of Salem, which specializes in preparing emergency vehicles for duty, city paperwork showed.

Ivens couldn't point to a specific maintenance problem with the Charger sedans, but he said unexpected glitches cause logistical problems for police.

“Those things were unfortunately at the shops quite a bit,” Ivens said. “We’re hoping this platform treats us a little better than the Dodges did.”

Ivens said police work is particularly hard on vehicles because they need to be running for long periods of time to keep equipment running.

"Our cars, unfortunately, rarely ever get turned off," Ivens said.

Extra interior space on the Ford SUVs should better accommodate equipment such as rear passenger cages — particularly for taller officers. The space matters, Ivens said, because the vehicles serve as an "office on wheels."

"They've got a lot of things going on in that car," Ivens said. "You start to lose space in a hurry."

The rest of the new SUVs won't appear overnight, according to Ivens, and three-quarters of the 40-car patrol fleet will be Dodges. Including a SWAT vehicle and two trailers, the department has 100 vehicles. 

Equipping the new vehicles can take weeks, depending on delivery times and Wire Works' schedule, and Ivens said the installation service typically delivers two or three vehicles at a time. 

The all-wheel-drive Fords are rated at 16 miles per gallon in the city, same as a Dodge Charger pursuit model, according to manufacturer websites.

— Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

Medford police posted this photo on Facebook Wednesday of the K9 unit's new Ford Interceptor SUV. Nine more of the crossover vehicles are on order.