Cops not blind to Charger's windows

Nov 17, 2007

Are car makers blind to safety?

John LeBlanc,, Oct. 31

As a veteran police officer in the GTA, I think I know why Ford still sells the most police package vehicles.

Try a high-speed lights-and-sirens run with a new Dodge Charger. (Man, that thing looks mean!)

You come up on a red light and it's life or death for you to check left and right to make sure the intersection is clear and you have to pull yourself up over the steering wheel and stick your face out over the dash almost against the windshield to get a clear view.

The A-pillars and the low roof line make it impossible to get a clear view while sitting back in the seat for a normal person, never mind the average taller police officer. The Impala isn't much better, though I have not personally driven the new 2008 model of the Chevrolet.

This is not just my opinion. The department I work for had two Dodges fully equipped for a trial period. They were rotated around our 1,000 officers to test drive and report back with an evaluation sheet after a 12-hour shift.

At first, both men and woman would fight to get a chance to test drive them. I was the most senior officer on my shift so I got first crack at one. I drove it for four hours and said, "Give me back the Crown Vic. before I get killed in this thing."

Right now, after less than couple of months, the two Dodges are sitting in the back lot of the station and no one drives them unless one of the Fords is in the shop. After the feedback from the evaluations, the department is not going to be ordering anymore.

Of course, visibility isn't the only reason officers didn't like the Charger, but they all agree it looks real mean!

Yes, we have Chevrolets as well. Our department at one time had a fleet of only GM vehicles, but got stuck when Chevrolet stopped making the Caprice. (A car I loved and miss very much.)

We had all this equipment that wouldn't fit any of the new cars being offered, so we thought we would be smarter and buy half the fleet as GM and half as Ford. That way, if either stopped making one of them, we wouldn't get caught with a whole fleet's worth of equipment and wouldn't have the cost to replace it all at once.

The problem with this was that the Impalas didn't work out as a uniform police vehicle. We were stuck with a contract to buy the GMs for a number of years.

We got around it because our whole fleet was suppose to be half and half, so we made every Crown Victoria a uniform patrol car and used the Impalas as detective cars, or community service vehicles anything but a uniform cruiser.

It still means we have a few of the Impalas out there as uniform cruisers, but the officers don't like them. The visibility out the front window, let alone out the back or sides, is one of the major reasons why.

(Hey, the Charger looks mean!)