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New patrol car hits the streets
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Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion shows off the first new 2013 Ford Interceptor police vehicle added to the departments fleet this week. - photo by HIME ROMERO

Manteca Police Department’s new wheels are a far cry from the Dodge Diplomat Police Chief Nick Obligacion drove when he started patrolling as a police officer 21 years ago.

The V-8 Diplomat had a holder for a shotgun and radio.

The department’s new 2013 Ford Interceptor has a V-6 engine with more horsepower, cutting edge LED emergency lights, onboard computer, dash camera, in car video, prisoner cam, all wheel drive, a pitch sensor system designed to reduce rollovers, radio, GPS, holders for a shotgun and a long rifle, back seat solid door panels that eliminates the ability of prisoners to hide items, and a break-proof back seat window set up with bars to prevent prisoners from kicking out windows.

“You can’t get more state-of-the-art than this,” the police chief said.

And it’s not techie stuff and gadgets for the sake of having them.

The biggest thing that citizens will notice is the LED lights. They are significantly brighter and more visible plus use less electricity. There are also LED emergency lights strategically placed on the patrol unit’s side panels as well as under the trunk lid so that when an officer is using the trunk the vehicle is still visible to motorists when the view of the LED bar on top of the roof is blocked.

The LED light bar also allows the officer to switch to normal light mode. The light from the LED is bright enough to light up roughly 100 feet in front of the patrol unit “almost as bright as the day.”

The onboard computers — a staple in Manteca patrol units for years — allows almost instantaneous response when license plates and other information is run through the DMV.

The cameras help record what is going on as verification of the officer’s actions. It helps in the courtroom and also when there are accusations made against officers of misconduct.

Obligacion noted the bars and protective plates on the back windows were pricey but compared with the cost of having to replace the rear windows multiple times is a cost effective investment.

The trunk has a sliding computer shelf where recording and control devices for a everything from the various video systems and siren and emergency light systems to the modem for the computer are placed for easy access.

State-of the-art patrol vehicles along with computers are one of the reasons why the police chief said officers today are 10-fold more productive and effective than they were 30 years ago.