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