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Chevy Caprice makes WSP debut in Spokane area | News

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Chevy Caprice makes WSP debut in Spokane area
News, Transportation
Chevy Caprice makes WSP debut in Spokane area

The flashing lights in your rear view mirror may belong to a new kind of vehicle patrolling the roadway. The chosen replacement for Washington State Patrol’s fleet of Crown Vics - the Chevrolet Caprice PPV - has made its debut in Eastern Washington.

A set of four Caprices were issued to four troopers based out of the Spokane district office. The vehicles were already equipped with the lights, bumpers, computers, radar - everything they need for their mobile office.

It was not a change made by choice explains WSP spokesperson, Dan Coon. Ford Motor Company discontinued the Police Interceptor Crown Victoria last year leaving WSP little time to test out their options to restructure the fleet.

“We knew how to build them up,” Coon explained. “The seats, radio, equipment - doing that for 25 years with the Crown Vic. With the Caprice - new car, new model, new make - there’s a learning curve.”

It’s a more expensive ride. Compared to the Crown Vic, which cost the state about $37,000 to fully outfit the patrol vehicle, the Caprice is priced at about $56,000 - which includes the new mobile office platform and heavy infrastructure modification.

The big jump in price, Coon explained, is because the new vehicle includes a computer and video camera that the Crown Vic lacked. The vehicles will also be outfitted with new radio systems to handle new requirements by the Federal Communication Commission.

“As we go forward, our mechanics will get better at reducing the costs of outfitting the cars. We expect that cost to go down as they get more efficient,” Coon added.

Coon estimates it will take about five years for the state to roll out about 650 Caprices in the state as each Crown Vic meets the end of its rotation. That’s not the end of the Crown Vic though, they’ll eventually end up in the hands of a cadet class training at their academy in Shelton.

Trooper Jeff Sevigny showed off the new vehicle’s accommodations Friday morning at the Spokane County Interstate Fair. The vehicle’s trooper was off-duty so it was on loan to WSP’s educational booth.

“Technology has come a long way. We have more horsepower, computerized systems on board that help with handling... Every trooper that’s assigned a Caprice has to go back [to the state academy] to do additional training to get familiar with the vehicle,” Sevigny explained.

The 2.7 mile course has a range of environments to test the Caprice’s maneuverability including a gravel road and a four lane interstate simulation.

As the new fleet rolls out, they’ll already be equipped with a dashboard radar, computer system and dash camera that also has a view in the backseat.

“If the trooper has a prisoner in the back, while he’s transporting the prisoner is recording as well,” Sevigny said. “That’s there for the officer’s safety as well as the violator so we have a true and accurate picture of what happened at a traffic stop.”

When outfitted, Coon added the new vehicles are smaller than the Crown Vics, but they have a more ergonomic fit for troopers and for passengers in the backseat.

You can expect to see three of these new vehicles patrolling in the Spokane area and the fourth vehicle based in Pend Oreille County.

Earlier this year, we went on a ride-along with a trooper with the newest (and last) Crown Victoria to be issued by Washington State Patrol. You can read that July story including a Storify of tweets from our patrol in Lincoln and Spokane County.

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