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Tahoes, Chargers prove their mettle

Manteca Police embrace both replacement vehicles

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Tahoes, Chargers prove their mettle

A Manteca Police Charger on patrol in downtown Sunday.

HIME ROMERO/The Bulletin /


POSTED December 21, 2008 11:23 p.m.
Bad guys aren’t wild about the Manteca Police Department’s black and white units.
The reason? The Dodge Chargers are equipped with engineering that makes them extremely stable in a high-speed pursuit while the Chevy Tahoes give officers a better view into other vehicles on the road.
And — as an added bonus —the rank and file police officers like the looks of the vehicles.
“The (officers) seem to take better care of the vehicles,” noted Police Chief Dave Bricker.
It’s been 16 months since Manteca Police first put the Tahoes and Chargers on the road to see if they could pass muster to replace the white and blue Crown Victorias that Ford has indicated they planned to phase out of production.
And by all indications they have past the test with flying colors.
“They (the Tahoes) are a lot easier to get suspects in and out of,” Bricker said.
Originally, the idea was to decide which vehicle was the best and to eventually replace all of the Crown Victorias with just one of the two. Then, after seeing how effective the two vehicles were, the department was leaning toward splitting the fleet up 50-50 between the two vehicles. But Bricker said economic realities are prompting the department to go with a formula with close to two thirds Chargers and a third Tahoes. The Tahoes are about $10,000 to $20,000 more expensive. The higher priced Tahoes, though, are expected to have upwards of a 50 percent longer life expectancy based on reports back from other departments that have used them for a number of years as they are built on tougher and more durable truck frames.
The Tahoes can’t top out at speeds as high as the Chargers, but the perspective they provide officers who ride higher off the ground helps make up for that.
The Tahoes come equipped with everything a cop could want — suspension and brake systems to tough police specifications, onboard computer to get readouts on the bad guys in seconds, all the accessories needed to subdue a suspect with or without using lethal force as well as a state-of-the-art digital dashboard video camera.
If the bad guys think the Tahoes are sluggish and less nimble than the Ford Crown Victorias that still make up the bulk of the Manteca Police fleet, they’d better guess again. Manteca Police in 2007 — prior to buying their first Tahoe — attended an annual track test of police vehicles in the Los Angeles area and was able to put the Ford Crown Victoria and the Chevy Tahoe SUV — both built to police specifications — to the test and came away completely convinced the Tahoe was the better pursuit vehicle.
Bricker said the Chargers are real effective in high speed chases as they have built in engineering that prevent over steering into curves. When that happens, the car’s on-board computer lets up on the gas pedal. That has helped increase the safety of officers.
There’s another advantage of the Tahoes. They can sneak up on many people because in the rear view mirror they don’t fit the profile of a patrol unit.
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