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City of Oakland information systems superviser David Cruze and city spokesperson Karen Boyd take a closer look at the interior of one of the new Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles on display at Frank Ogawa Plaza in Oakland, Calif., on Tuesday, Dec. 17, 2013 that will be replacing some of the Crown Victoria Police Interceptors currently being used by the Oakland Police Department. The new utility vehicles are a portion of the 82 new vehicles being added to the public safety vehicle fleet in Oakland. (Laura A. Oda/Bay Area News Group)

OAKLAND -- Police officers will get a better view of the road and a lot more head room as they cruise city streets in their brand new all-wheel drive Ford Interceptor SUV patrol vehicles.

The new fleet will slowly phase out the classic Crown Victoria, which Ford pulled from assembly lines two years ago.

Oakland joins several agencies including the California High Patrol in opting for SUVs. Interim Chief Sean Whent said the available sedan models were too small to adequately fit police computers and other equipment and that the higher roof will make it easier for officers to get arrestees into the back seat.

"We ask a whole lot from our officers, and we have to provide them the equipment to go do their job," Whent said during an event to debut the patrol cars Tuesday outside City Hall.

Oakland was long overdue for new patrol cars, Whent said. Patrol cars typically last for 85,000 miles. But many of Oakland's have over 130,000 miles on them, he said.

The city is purchasing 82 police vehicles through a nearly $12 million fund that is also being used to purchase fire trucks and street sweepers. Noting the steep drop in homicides this year, Mayor Jean Quan called the SUVs a "gift from the city to the Oakland Police Department to thank them for their good work this year."

The city could not say late Tuesday how much it is paying for the new police cars. A city report last year showed the council approving the purchase of seven new patrol cars for about $60,000 apiece.


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Ford says the Interceptor gets 20 percent better gas mileage than its last Crown Victoria. However, Oakland surrendered a little fuel efficiency in opting for the all-wheel drive SUV. According to Ford, it gets a combined 18 miles per gallon, compared to 21 miles per gallon for the all-wheel-drive sedan.

The sight of the new SUV patrol vehicles sparked a little debate among those passing by City Hall Tuesday. "Whatever keeps them safe," Oakland contractor Marty Sims said as he checked out the automobiles.

But Lawrence Coleman, of Berkeley, questioned if Oakland could have saved money by going with a smaller, simpler car. "Where are you going to need all-wheel drive?" he asked. "We don't have snowstorms. They could get a more basic vehicle for maybe a little less money and then maybe get more of them."

Contact Matthew Artz at 510-208-6435