By Garrett Dvorkin
Herald Staff Reporter
The Titusville Police Department welcomed its new police car on Thursday afternoon with the help of City officials.
City Manager Neil Fratus and Mayor Jon Crouch came down to the station to drop off a car care gift and inspect the new vehicle themselves. This is the police department’s first hybrid vehicle, a direction both Crouch and Fratus encouraged the department to head in.
The department welcomed the vehicle, which was able to arrive a year earlier than previously thought. Half of the new vehicle was paid for with funds in the City’s 2021-22 budget. The other half was going to be paid for in thefollowing year’s budget, but Fratus said that COVID-19 reimbursement funds were available.
When choosing the new vehicle, Titusville Police Chief Dustin LeGoullon said he proposed both a regular and hybrid vehicle to City officials. They encouraged him to get the hybrid.
Fratus believes that this will help the City move in the right direction. “It’s important. Times are changing,” said Fratus. “This vehicle is more energy efficient and better for the environment. It’s a step in the right direction.”
Speaking with fiscal responsibility in mind, Mayor Crouch said,“It will half pay for itself in saved fuel alone.”
For a police force like Titusville, with a smaller overall coverage area and more stop and go, a hybrid vehicle is ideal. When traveling under 25 mph the vehicle can operate 100% on its battery and use no fuel.
According to Ford Motor Company, the hybrid drivetrain will save departments between $3,500 and $5,700 a year. Those figures are based on 1,200 fewer gallons of gas priced at $2.75 per gallon.
The vehicle cost the City $48,000, which includes. $11,590 to up-fit the vehicle for police use.
For officers that drive as much as Titusville’s men in uniform, the fuel savings will be appreciated. LeGoullon said that on average a Titusville police vehicle will travel 20,000 in a year.
With the potential savings of both energy and money on fuel, Fratus said, “it’s a win for the environment and a win for the city.”
The new vehicle is a “twin” to the department’s other 2020 Interceptor Utility they received last year, except for how it is powered. LeGoullon said that their new vehicle, which looks like a Ford Explorer, actually comes from Ford with some important differences.
While a standard model Ford Explorer would normally come equipped with a 2.3 liter V-4 engine, the Interceptor Utility comes standard with a 3.3 liter V-6 engine. The engine in the 2020 utility has a lithium-ion battery that collects energy while the car is running.
The car can also detect “interception driving” and can change engine tuning to allow for faster acceleration.
Once the vehicle left Ford’s hands, it went straight to Ibis Tek, a company that upfits vehicles for “defense and protection,” based out of Butler. LeGoullon said that once the vehicle went to Ibis, it received the gun locks, police cage, radio systems, iPad and mount, cameras, lighting and other features.
LeGoullon made a point to get a vehicle that could mirror the department’s other Interceptor Utility. “I chose a vehicle to twin the current SUV so that our officers can have some muscle memory when using the vehicle’s systems,” he said.
The vehicle was ordered so that the department can start to update their fleet. The department currently has four vehicles.
Recently the department sent its unmarked Ford Explorer to the City Code Enforcement Officer.
In 2010, the City purchased three police vehicles, two Dodge Chargers and the Ford Explorer. The department then did not purchase another vehicle until 2015.
LeGoullon said this forced his department into “a pickle,” where they had three vehicles “go bad” on them at similar times. He hopes the new vehicle will allow for the department to get ahead in terms of its fleet.
While the new vehicle will save money and allow the department to have a newer fleet, more importantly however, is the benefit to the officers.
“State of the art equipment allows us to have the most effective officers we can have,” said LeGoullon.
Dvorkin can be reached by email at Gdvorkin@titusvilleherald.com.