Cruisers come in different packages

Joshua Hudson

Sirens blaring.

Red and blue lights flashing.

A police cruiser races down the road in hot pursuit of the bad guy who is leading officers on a high speed chase. The cruiser flies over hills and dodges oncoming traffic with ease.

That is what most people think of when they see a police cruiser — a car that can almost reach the speed of light and is nearly indestructible. But that is a common misconception that most police officers say is not entirely true.

“The engines are a little different, but that is about it,” said Joe Hendry, sergeant of the Kent State University Police Department. “The big difference between a police cruiser and a normal car is all the equipment crammed inside. I have been a cop for 15 years and it seems like I have less room ever year.”

Hendry said his car can only go as high as 140 mph.

Scott Porter, Brimfield Township police chief, said he hasn’t had anyone in his unit even go that fast.

“I am not even sure I would want to drive a car 140 mph,” he said.

Lt. Michelle Lee of the Kent Police Department said there isn’t enough room in the city for a car to reach speeds past 80 mph. She said not only is it not safe, but the dispatchers do a good job of keeping up with what is happening on the road.

“We try and maintain eye contact with a car we are pursuing and the dispatchers notify any other departments ahead of us,” she said. “One time we had a chase with the Stow, Hudson and Sheriff’s department all helping us out. The chase ended well for us, which means no one got hurt and we got the guy.”

Porter said cruisers come in different packages. The Ford Crown Victoria, which is the type of car used by Brimfield, Kent, Kent State University and the State Highway Patrol, has what is called an Interceptor Package.

Porter said the cars have a stronger suspension and transmission to help them through everyday punishment. They also have factory work done in the engine that is exclusive to police cruisers.

Lee said the Crown Victoria is an ideal car because of its space. Chevrolet makes police cruisers in the form of the Impala and the Caprice, while Ford also makes a Taurus model for police use.

“We can transport up to three people in the back of the car at any given time,” she said. “Plus the cars are full-sized models, which means more room in the front seat for the officer.”

Maintenance on the cruisers is almost an everyday thing since the cars travel numerous miles in a day, even with all of the extra equipment.

The average number of miles a car travels varies by department. For instance, a campus police cruiser travels 80 to 100 miles a day. But a car from the Kent Police Department may only travel 50. Yet the Highway Patrol and the Brimfield Township cruisers may cover 150 miles in a day.

Campus and Brimfield Township take their cruisers in every couple weeks for general maintenance. Hendry said that involves an oil change and routine inspection of the brakes, wiring, lights, windshield wipers and tires. The Kent Police Department takes their vehicles in every 3,000 miles, while the Highway Patrol takes their cars in every 5,000 miles.

“We have a travel routine for every car that we take in to a certified mechanic,” said Brian Holt, sergeant for the Portage County Division of the State Highway Patrol. “If we have any warranty work or a recall that needs done on a car, we take it to an authorized dealer that is capable of handling it.”

Contact public affairs reporter Joshua Hudson [email protected]