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New wheels on local streets : Los Altos Police get updated look with 2013 patrol vehicle


Photo By: Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier
Photo Ellie Van Houtte/ Town Crier

The Los Altos Police Department’s new Interceptor Utility vehicle serves as a mobile incident command post.

The Los Altos Police Department last week rolled out the newest member of its agency – albeit one on four wheels instead of two feet.

The agency’s new 2013 Ford Police Interceptor Utility began patrolling Los Altos streets May 21. And if the department’s new patrol car looks slightly different to local residents, there’s reason for it.

According to Los Altos Police Chief Tuck Younis, Ford Motor Co. opted earlier this year to discontinue production of its trademark Crown Victoria police cruisers, which Younis called “legendary” vehicles commonly used by numerous law enforcement agencies across the United States.

“That Crown Victoria was a workhorse for years and years in our profession,” said Younis, whose department received two of its final Crown Victorias earlier this year – before being discontinued – and has a total of nine patrol vehicles in service.

The department opted to move forward with the Ford Police Interceptor Utility – built on the same platform as the Ford Taurus, but with the look of a Ford Explorer. Younis noted that the new utility vehicle is the same one chosen by the California Highway Patrol, which previously used V8 Crown Victorias as well.

Younis added that the new vehicle is the first of its kind for the department in more than cosmetic ways. The new V6 Interceptor Utility comes equipped with a “command package” that allows it to serve as the department’s first mobile incident command post.

The vehicle will also be used for larger in-progress criminal investigations and special events. Among other amenities, the vehicle contains special officer safety equipment and “less-lethal” weaponry, such as beanbag projectiles. The new Interceptor also includes more standard police performance features such as all-wheel drive and a heavy-duty braking system to “meet the demands of police work,” Younis noted.

“For this particular vehicle, it’s critical for us because of the command package we’ve added,” Younis said. “We previously didn’t have a mobile incident command post, so a lot of times the coordination during a multiagency response was done on the hood of someone’s patrol car. … This is really an extra benefit for our organization that we did not have before.”

Younis noted that by choosing the same vehicle as the CHP, the department was able to “piggyback” on the state’s negotiated bid price with Ford and purchase it for approximately $40,000.

“The equipment we put on it and the installation is a part of that (price),” he added.

With the Crown Victoria now a thing of the past, Younis said residents should see more of the new Interceptor Utility vehicles on the road in the coming years. Because of the continual use of its patrol vehicles, the department typically replaces three cars annually.

“These cars are used heavily day and night without much of a break,” Younis noted.

Younis said the department’s next batch of Interceptor Utility patrol vehicles in 2014 will include more standard features typically seen in patrol cars, such as screening partitions for prisoner transport.

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