Cops mus­cle up their cars

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - NA­TIONAL MO­TOR­ING EDI­TOR

YOU may want to dou­ble check your rear-view mir­ror next time you’re on the road.

NSW po­lice have unveiled two new hi-tech high­way pa­trol cars as our home­grown Hold­ens and Fords reach the end of the road af­ter al­most half a cen­tury of ser­vice.

Turbo-diesel BMWs and V8-pow­ered Chrysler sedans will be rolled out across the state from next month.

The stock­pile of Ford Fal­con and Holden Com­modore high­way pa­trol cars is due to be ex­hausted fol­low­ing the shut­down of lo­cal man­u­fac­tur­ing last year. Gen­eral du­ties po­lice will con­tinue to use Toy­ota Camry sedans, but find­ing suit­able re­place­ments for Aus­tralian-made high­way pa­trol cars — with world-class performance — has been more dif­fi­cult.

Au­thor­i­ties as­sessed 17 cars over the past three years be­fore de­cid­ing on two pur­pose-built ve­hi­cles from BMW and Chrysler.

The BMW 5-Series turbo-diesel is used by po­lice across Europe and the UK, while the Chrysler SRT8 has the same high-performance hard­ware used by US po­lice.

The po­lice ve­hi­cles are not the same as those avail­able to the pub­lic.

The BMW “au­thor­ity pack” has been stripped of most lux­u­ries but fit­ted with big­ger brakes and are said to cost po­lice close to half the $120,000 show­room price.

At about $65,000 the Chrysler SRT8 costs more than the $50,000 Fal­con and Com­modore performance sedans, al­though po­lice pay fleet prices. NSW Po­lice even asked to delete the BMW’s leather seats but the com­pany said it would have cost more to add cloth up­hol­stery be­cause the same “au­thor­ity pack” is sold to po­lice across the world, in­clud­ing to high­way pa­trol in Vic­to­ria.

BMW says other Aus­tralian states may fol­low our lead.

As­sis­tant po­lice com­mis­sioner Michael Cor­boy, head of the Traf­fic

and High­way Pa­trol Com­mand, said the “whole of life cost” of the new cars is com­pa­ra­ble to Fal­cons and Com­modores once fuel econ­omy, ser­vic­ing and the money re­couped from re­sale prices are taken into ac­count. “It’s no secret we don’t make cars in Aus­tralia any more so we had to go out­side of Aus­tralia.,” he said. “The two man­u­fac­tur­ers we’ve gone with … make ready-to-go po­lice cars for around the world.”

The Ford Mon­deo and Ger­man­sourced Holden Com­modore were con­sid­ered but “didn’t meet min­i­mum bench­mark re­quire­ments”.

The new gen­er­a­tion high­way pa­trol cars are not only the most ad­vanced in Aus­tralia but are equipped with world-lead­ing tech­nol­ogy worth more than the cost of the cars them­selves.

Every high­way pa­trol car in NSW now has au­to­matic num­ber­plate read­ing tech­nol­ogy to de­tect stolen cars or wanted driv­ers, front and rear fac­ing cam­eras to cap­ture mo­bile of­fences, as well as be­ing equipped with tablet com­put­ers for quicker ve­hi­cle checks. The tech­nol­ogy has al­ready led to dozens of ar­rests of dan­ger­ous crim­i­nals.

Po­lice say the ex­tra tech­nol­ogy will not only help keep the roads safer but high­way pa­trol ve­hi­cles are in­creas­ingly be­ing used for front­line po­lice work.

Con­trary to pub­lic per­cep­tion the high­way pa­trol are of­ten first cars to the scene of vi­o­lent do­mes­tic dis­putes, armed hold-ups and other lifethreat­en­ing sit­u­a­tions, in­clud­ing back­yard pool drown­ings.

The first po­lice of­fi­cer to at­tend the Lindt Cafe siege in Martin Place was a high­way pa­trol mo­tor­cy­clist.

“We are in a lot of cases the first po­lice to re­spond to crit­i­cal sit­u­a­tions be­cause we are out on the roads al­ready. When an ur­gent job comes over, we drop ev­ery­thing,” Mr Cor­boy said.

Po­lice will roll out the new high­way pa­trol cars from July as they be­gin to re­tire the first of the Fal­cons and Com­modores that have com­pleted their ser­vice.

Pic­ture: Sam Rut­tyn

Sr Con­sta­ble John Larkins, As­sis­tant Com­mis­sioner Michael Cor­boy and Lead­ing Sr Con­sta­ble Dar­rin Hooper with the new High­way Pa­trol Unit BMW and Chrysler cars.

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