County officers rev up new engines

CNJ staff photo: Sharna Johnson The Curry County Sheriff’s department debuted one of its four new police-edition Dodge Chargers Wednesday.

By Sharna Johnson: CNJ staff writer

The Curry County Sheriff’s department placed the first of four new police-edition Dodge Chargers into action on county roads Wednesday, sporting the department’s new color scheme and low-profile light bar.

The remaining three vehicles are being loaded with emergency response equipment such as lights, sirens, radios and cameras, and will be placed in service in coming weeks.

The cars were purchased in order to update an aging fleet, Undersheriff Wesley Waller said.

“We inherited a fleet that consisted of mostly high-mileage vehicles,” he said.

Waller said the Curry County Commission made it possible for the department to retire four of the oldest vehicles and replace them with the Chargers.

Traditionally police have used either Chevrolet Impalas or Ford Crown Victorias, but Chrysler rolled out the police version of the Chargers in 2007, allowing a new option, Waller said.

Sheriff Matt Murray said Chargers were chosen because they offer more internal space and greater fuel efficiency, and projected long-term maintenance costs were lower. The vehicles are being purchased from a dealer in Belen under state contract, he said.

Additionally, the department purchased two Dodge Magnums, one for the sheriff and one for an investigator. Waller said the cars will remain unmarked but have standard police equipment, including lights in the grill.

Murray said the sheriff’s department is also in the process of adding digital cameras with DVD backup to all its vehicles along with enhanced radio equipment. In the past deputies often found as they got farther out of town they began having issues with their radios. The service range on the new radios is extended, allowing deputies to use them regardless of how far out of town they are.

By the numbers

$25,000 — Approximate cost of each Charger with equipment

$22,000 — Approximate cost of each Magnum with equipment

25 — Miles per gallon gas mileage the Charger gets on highway, 17 in the city

18 — Vehicles in the sheriff’s department fleet, 10 of which are patrol vehicles including two SUVs