Where the rubber meets the Road

Michigan State Police Vehicle Tests offer decision-makers the numbers needed to help analyze law enforcement's 2010 model vehicles

   Editor's Note: All test results are preliminary and are subject to change upon confirmation of data with the Michigan State Police. Once available, additional information on the 2010 and previous year's police vehicle evaluations can be found online at the Michigan State Police Web site, www.michigan.gov/msp.

Returning to duty

   Announced at the recent International Association of Chiefs of Police show, which took place in Denver from Oct. 3 to 7, hidden underneath a black shroud of secrecy, Chevrolet unveiled its newest Caprice Police Package Vehicle. Along with some custom-designed-for-law-enforcement highlights, this latest model features everything the Caprice's history represents: Full-size four-door sedan, a rear wheel drive and a powerful 6-liter 355 horsepower V8 (with optional V6).

   While the Caprice retains its show-floor looks, as any officer sitting in his or her vehicle knows, your car is your office. Because of this, Chevrolet paid special attention to specific elements inside.

   Dana Hammer, manager of law enforcement vehicles for the General Motors Corp. (GM) , says "[The company] has been working with [our law enforcement customer board] and getting their input, bouncing questions off of them — their input has been very valuable to the development of this vehicle."

   With this attention to detail, it is important to recognize that this Caprice is a law enforcement-only model. "This car is only available for police agencies, there is not a retail vehicle," explains Hammer.

  •    Seating: Its seats have been designed for police officers. As written in GM's release, seats have been sculpted to "pocket" the equipment belt.

       "The Chevrolet Caprice PPV's seats represent a revolution in comfort and utility for officers who spend long hours in their car," says Bob Demick, lead seat design manager.

       "The shape also enhances entry and egress, making it easier for officers to exit the vehicle quickly. The seatback bolsters, for example, have been purposefully contoured to help pocket the equipment on the belt, which includes the gun, Taser and handcuffs, which rest comfortably in the sculpted lower bolsters. That also increases the longevity of the trim cover surface."

  • Battery: A common problem in the law enforcement vehicle is power for equipment required for an officer without wasting fuel. The Caprice includes an auxiliary battery to run aftermarket equipment. This will allow the vehicle to start even if the power drains.
  • Side curtain airbags: Another thorn in the engineering of police vehicles — how to provide side curtain airbags without forcing a gap in the partition. The Caprice offers front-only side curtain airbags, which allow the full prisoner partition yet still complies to federal safety standards for the backseat. Full-length side curtain airbags are available as an option.
  • Dash: The Caprice's AM/FM radio has been designed to enable its removal for trunk installation. This allows an aftermarket in-dash touchscreen computer monitor for the officer — ridding hardware and mounting brackets.

   "Many people at the IACP show came up to us and said, 'We're glad that Chevy is back,' " mentions Hammer. Yet, he explains "we've always been in the marketplace with our Impala and Tahoe, we feel our Caprice is going to deliver and be a great entry for law enforcement."

   Looking in the future, he adds that the Caprice will be at next year's Michigan State Police Tests and the LA County Tests. Adding that Chevrolet should be able to take orders around this time next year and have delivery of the vehicles in the first quarter of 2011."

   Editor's Note: For more information, the news release can be found at http://www.officer.com/product/10170126/general-motors-corp-chevrolet-caprice-police-patrol-vehicle.

History of the Caprice

   1959 — Chevy Biscayne police model capable of 135 mph with specially tuned, police-only version of the 348-cubic-inch V8 engine.

   1965 —The new "big-block" 396 engine is offered in Biscayne and Bel Air police cars; a 427 V8 was added in 1966.

   1976 —The 9C1 order code is given for the first time to a full-size Chevy police car package. It carries the Impala name.

   1977 — The full-size Chevy is downsized. The 9C1 police package is retained, as is the Impala name.

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