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Manteca will soon have all SUV marked police units
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This 2010 photo shows one of Manteca Police Departments first Tahoe units as the department was transitioning from the old white and blue markings to black and white colors. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Police “patrol cars” could become passé in Manteca in the next few years.
That’s because sports utility vehicles used by the Manteca Police Department are lasting longer, are more reliable, have less mechanical issues, save taxpayers money, can take heavier use given they are built on a truck chassis, allow more space for officers as well as arrestees, work well on the streets,  give officers a better sight advantage compared to sedans, and have a higher resale value.
Manteca Police Chief Jodie Estarziau noted the department is slowly phasing out the sedans. They are in the process of buying two Ford Explorers such as used by the CHP  to use as marked patrol cars. It will be a test to determine if the Explorers hold up as well as the Chevy Tahoe units. Depending upon how they fare, the department could see its fleet of patrol units be a combination of Tahoe and Explorer units or exclusively comprised of Chevy Tahoe models.
The Tahoe costs about $50,000 fully equipped for police service — $5,000 more than the Ford sedans. But once other factors are taken into account the Tahoe is less expensive to operate over the long haul.
Sedans have to be retired after 90,000 miles due to wear and tear. A number of Tahoe units in the Manteca Police have already surpassed 150,000 miles. The department is just now retiring its first Tahoe that went into service and has logged more than 160,000 miles. It is being painted white and being repurposed as a vehicle for the Manteca Police Explorers unit. Unlike newer Tahoe units the city purchased, the initial Tahoe patrol units were assigned to sergeants and had the traditional back seat intake. Other Tahoe units have rear seats designed specifically to transport arrestees.
Besides listening to feedback from officers, Estarziau said she also took into account comments from the city’s vehicle maintenance staff.
“What they have to say important because they are the ones that have to work on  them,” the police said. “They like the Tahoe much better.”
Besides being easier to work on they are in the shop less. In addition the Tahoe units — unlike sedans — have much longer extended warranties so if there is an issue with the transmission, as an example, that isn’t the result of misuse the repair is on the dime of General Motors.
Estarziau said given the equipment officers wear — equipment belts, guns and protective gear — it can be a challenge for officers taller than 5-foot-9 to smoothly get in and out of sedans. In recent years that also has a lot to do with the shrinking footprint of sedans. That also has meant smaller back seats for transporting arrestees that also can present challenges in sedans.
Estarziau noted that used police SUVs have proven to have a higher resale value than police sedans when they  are finally taken out of service based on the experience of other departments.
The department has 21 marked patrol units and 14 other vehicles including community service officer units and unmarked detective cars.

To contact Dennis Wyatt, email