Police Chief Richard Watson of Cahokia, Il., says his newest patrol car is a departure from its big-horsepower Ford Crown Victorias. Watson tells the Associated Press that the four-cylinder Pontiac Vibe GT has plenty of pep for policing and gets twice the gas mileage. Law enforcement agencies looking for ways to cut corners and reduce costs after last year’s $4-a-gallon gas are increasingly turning to more fuel-efficient cars. While more muscular cruisers like Crown Victorias or Dodge Chargers won’t be scrapped, there’s little confidence gasoline will stay below $2 a gallon much longer.
In Gulf Breeze, Fl., Police Chief Peter Paulding is pursuing a state grant to replace the internal combustion engines in three of his department’s 20 Crown Victorias with electric motors to see if they withstand the rigors of police work. Salt Lake City police added five 2009 Toyota Camry hybrids to their fleet to save as much as $20,000 a year. “To some degree, everybody’s looking at alternatives,” said Russell Laine, police chief in Algonquin, Il., and president of the International Association of Chiefs of Police.