When the Kennewick Police Department began designing new police vehicles, it wanted something to catch people's eyes.
"We wanted a vehicle that, when we rolled up everybody knew it was a (KPD) vehicle," Sgt. Ken Lattin said.
On Wednesday, the department unveiled the new SUVs and cars that will make up a majority of its new fleet. The fleet is changed out every four years or so as the vehicles experience wear and tear.
The department recently purchased 27 new vehicles, including 14 cars and eight SUVs that will be used for patrol purposes, Cmdr. Trevor White said. Four other vehicles were purchased for the department's Criminal Apprehension Team. The cars and SUVs are made by Ford and cost around $42,000 each, White said. They are black and white and have a decal on the side with a logo of the department's badge.
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"We went for the traditional look," Lattin said.
The vehicles -- which are specially designed for law enforcement and will replace the department's Ford Crown Victorias -- are called Ford Interceptors. The SUV is a modified version of the Ford Explorer and the car is a modified version of the Ford Taurus.
Officials hope new additions to the vehicles will keep officers safer and make them more efficient, Lattin said.
The vehicles have 40 percent larger brake discs that allow for officers to stop on a dime and maneuver better than in the Crown Victorias, White said.
"In a city environment we use the brakes a lot," White said. "These brakes could stop a semi-truck."
The six-cylinder vehicles have new sensors, lights, cameras and cages in the back seat. The back end of the cars are also designed to withstand an impact of around 70 mph.
"Officer safety is big with these (vehicles)," Lattin said.
Members of the department have already driven models of the vehicles -- which are all-wheel drive -- on testing courses in the area, Lattin said. Officers have been pleased with the way the vehicles handle and with the brakes.
All eight of the SUVs already are on patrols and the department hopes to have all the vehicles on the road by September, White said. It takes about four days to modify the cars and get them ready for patrols.
The plan is to have each vehicle assigned to two officers and to keep them from being driven around the clock like the current cars are, White said. The department hopes to use the vehicles for the next five years.
"The idea is to extend their life span," White said. "We just drove (the old cars) until they died."
The old cars will either be auctioned off or used by the city in a non-emergency capacity, Lattin said.
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