EUGENE, Ore. (KMTR) -- The Eugene Police Department is sporting a new look as it tests models for the next generation of patrol vehicles.
For more than a decade, Eugene police officers have driven Ford's Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. However, Ford recently discontinued the model and EPD is trying to find the right fit for the future. It may be the Chevy Caprice.
The department just got two brand new Chevrolets, now part of patrol services. The vehicles' purchase is part of routine patrol car replacement EPD conducts each year.
The Caprice is a new model for Chevy, as it originally was a luxury option package for the popular Impala. First produced in the 60s for consumer purchase, the Caprice was taken out of US production in 1996. Chevy brought the Caprice back to the United States - from Australia - but only for sale to police agencies as a special Police Patrol Vehicle (PPV).
Eugene Police Officer Eric Eason is on the department committee involved in testing the Caprice. While Eason says it's smaller than the Ford Crown Victoria, the Caprice has much better gas mileage, more horsepower and, most importantly, better brakes.
"It's just a modern vehicle. The Crown Vic was so antiquated and so out of date,” said Eason. “I would say, for people who don't drive these cars (the Crown Vic) I would say it's something like driving a 1950s-era car.”
At this point, Eason says, “I think it (the Caprice) will make us a more capable department. I think all of the vehicles are more capable - it gives us greater safety.”
New safety features include red and blue side panel police lighting - the Caprice is the first EPD vehicle with this element. The car also features red and blue lights mounted on the trunk.
For now, EPD is planning on an extended testing for the vehicle; there's no deadline for the testing process. Eventually though, EPD will likely choose one specific vehicle for patrol service.
The department is also in the process of evaluating a silver Dodge Charger. In the coming weeks, the EPD will also receive one of Ford's new Police Interceptor vehicles, similar to a Ford Taurus.
But we are talking about budget cuts #right RT @KMTR: Eugene Police adds new Chevy Caprice to patrol fleet: http://t.co/jzjqwJIA
@simplifyNgo @KMTR Yea right? Like they need brand new vehicles to drive 15 minutes in any direction to cover all of Eugene.