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Chicago Police Supt. wants Chevy Tahoes for officers

Thursday, Mar 27, 2008

* This article caught my eye today:

At a Chicago Crime Commission luncheon held in his honor Wednesday, Weis said he would like to update the department’s “horrible” fleet of squad cars in answer to a question about how he might help patrol officers on the street.

With Chicago’s rugged winters, a sport-utility vehicle might make more sense than the traditional Ford Crown Victoria, he said.

If Chicago police switched from the Crown Vic to an SUV, some might question the cost, maneuverability and environmental consequences of such a fleet, especially in light of the Mayor’s push to make the city green.

But some smaller cities, such as Plano, Texas, have moved toward SUV fleets, citing higher resale value and more room for police gear.

* The first thought that jumped into my mind was what about the fuel efficiency of the cars, and the added tax burden? Then I read this:

And an extensive annual test of police vehicles conducted by Michigan State Police and reported in Law and Order magazine in November showed that the police-package Chevrolet Tahoe actually “accelerates, brakes and corners like most police sedans” and has a fuel efficiency estimated to be the same as that of the Crown Victoria.

However, it turns out that the fuel efficiency is an abysmal 11 miles per gallon. Wow. Okay, how about we replace the Crown Vics, but with a more fuel efficient car?

Chevy Tahoe

- Posted by Kevin Fanning        

  1. - Northside Bunker - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:36 am:


  2. - Ahem - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:38 am:

    If I’m not mistaken some automakers have hybrid SUV’s on the market now. Some electric-motor vehicles have better acceleration than petroleum-fueled vehicles, although not neccesarily an SUV!

  3. - Ghost - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:39 am:

    Chevy makes a hybrid suburban (less fancy tahoe) and maybe a tahoe as well. It operates with 4 cylinders under normal driving, the other 4 kick in when you hit the gass or need the extra torque for towing etc. it is estimated at 20mpg in the city as I recall.

    I actually suport the idea. Perhaps a few smaller SUV’s as well. But the all wheel or 4 wheel drive would better equip the police to handle emregencies in inclimate whetaher, and those that happen off of paved roads. Not to mention the extra space, reslae value etc.

  4. - wordslinger - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:43 am:

    As a young man, I was compelled a couple of times to accept rides from Chicago police officers to discuss a few matters back at their office. The Tahoe would definitely offer more leg room for their guest passengers.

  5. - Kevin Fanning - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:44 am:


  6. - cogenerator - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:47 am:

    I may be branded a heretic for this but, why would anyone be more concerned about fuel efficiency instead of utility, safety and the ability to get to a crime scene and save your butt?

  7. - Kevin Fanning - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:50 am:

    Sure, but do you need an SUV to accomplish that end? There are plenty of safe sedans.

  8. - Frank Booth - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 11:51 am:

    Perhaps the police should evaluate whether they actually need each and every Crown Vic or Tahoe. Give the frontline officers and those in true emergency response positions the vehicles they need and let the chiefs and administrators drive Priuses.

  9. - Six Degrees of Separation - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 12:01 pm:

    The Ford Escape Hybrid SUV gets 30-34 mpg. Not sure if it has enough acceleration to catch the getaway car. In that case, a Tesla electric roadster would do, allowing the cops to shoot at the bad guys in an environmentally sensitive way.

  10. - Distant Observer - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 12:02 pm:

    Problem with fuel economy for police depts relates more to idle time. There are a whole bunch of normal, everyday police activities where the squad needs to be running that absolutely kill fuel economy above & beyond the negative effect caused by urban traffic. Shutting off a squad for 15 mins during a traffic stop will guarantee a very dead battery from the overheads & radio running if the temperature is anything under 50. Shutting one off at an accident scene would also endanger emergency personnel as the lights get slower & dimmer before just stopping. That said, there are a lot of officers who need to shut down more often. Until someone makes it an issue with command, it won’t filter down to supervisors and the troops.

  11. - Wumpus - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 12:46 pm:

    Why not a Prius?

    Better yet, combine Wies’s goals of getting the po-po in better shape and upgrading the fleets. Strap some of the more girthy officers in front of wagons so they can pull them and have wagons with ample storage space

  12. - Rob_N - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 12:52 pm:

    Aren’t Tahoes FlexFuel ready? And is there a hybrid version available (like the Ford Escape Hybrid)?

    That said, is well made. I can understand leaving the engine to run during actual police activity (even as the vehicle idles), but does it need to be left running during lunches and breaks???

  13. - Kevin Fanning - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 12:53 pm:


    That actually fits quite well with this recent story:,CST-NWS-fit26.article

  14. - Jimmy87 - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:02 pm:

    I have no doubt that “Law and Order Magazine” gave the Tahoe high marks. I mean wouldn’t want to drive a Tahoe compared to grandma’s Crown Vic. Even though the Tahoe may “accelerate, brake and corner like most police sedans” it would, without question, be more expensive to maintain.

    Forget about MPG for just a second. Think about simple things like brake rotors, tires, fuel pumps, spark plugs, shocks, alternators…the list goes on and on. Ford Crown Victoria parts are DIRT cheap and can be easily obtained. However, because the Tahoe is a truck based SUV replacements tires will be larger, the alternator will be heavy duty, the shocks will be larger to support a 4×4 truck/SUV. All of these parts are way more expensive than a run of the mill Ford family sedan.

    If the Chicago PD wanted a few of Tahoes or Yukons in the fleet then I say go for it. But to make it the standard issue vehicle for the entire police force doesn’t make much sense to me and sounds like a pricey proposition.

  15. - A Citizen - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:06 pm:

    The militarism of civilian police forces nationwide is apparent. From Crown Vics to Black sinister Tahoes then what? I think they should simply jump to rubber tracked Sherman Tanks! Now we’re talking police FORCE.

  16. - One-Adam-12 - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:17 pm:

    First of all, kudos to Supt. Weis for giving priority to an issue that’s important not just in terms of fleet management, but in officer safety. Old beater Vics are also gas hogs that cost bunches of cash to repair, and it’s kinda embarrassing to have the radiator dump its lunch while one is writing a press hard in the middle of the summer, let alone in an emergency response situation.

    Our own Illinois State Police are suffering under this situation in what is one of the most unconscionable actions of the entire Blagojevich nightmare.

    The Hybrid Tahoe has just come to market and Chevy has said that it will not be sold, at least initially, for police use because it has not been tested under that type of usage.

    I agree that the fleet could be split into two or three vehicle types; the Ford Taurus (not the old ugly jellybean one-the one that was the 500 before they changed the name) or the Dodge Charger are two sedans available with AWD that could be used for the brass or other non-patrol officers. The Charger (in RWD form) and the FWD) Chevy Impala are already in police service in quite a few departments.

    Someone could make a nice chunk of change if they could figure out a way to run the lights/radio/mdt, etc on battery or aux power. All those things except the headlights don’t suck as much juice as they used to, but any battery has its limitations.

  17. - fed up - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:26 pm:

    the condition of the cars that are on the street now is a joke. I saw a policecar at a city park and the Ofc. let my son sit in it and turn on the lights and the car had 115k miles on it. But I doubt tahoes are going to be cost effective. The bosses could go with more fuel efficant vehicles though if it doesnt hurt there image ofcourse.

  18. - Beancounter - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:28 pm:

    I know that some police departments, especially on the coasts, drive Subaru Foresters. This cross-over SUV (on a car chassis) is all-wheel drive, takes standard tires, gets 22-28 miles per gallon, and handles like a dream.

  19. - sparky - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:33 pm:

    You could get AWD Subarus to get around in winter driving and have better fuel efficiencies. There really is no modern need for high speed vehicles. It’s like my dad told me when I started to drive - “you may think your car is fast, but nuthin’ outruns a Motorola”

  20. - North of I-80 - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:36 pm:

    Police vehicles idling at crash scenes don’t get good mileage anyhow. When responding to 911 calls, it’s wide-open, brake, wide open brake then idle for unknown periods running emergency lights, radios, computers. A Consumer Report approach will get you a Ford Taurus or Honda Civic that gets new brakes and alternators monthly, new trans every 6 months and is worth $2200 after 1 year.

    Buy 1/4 fleet Ford Crown Vics; 1/4 Tahoes; 1/4 Chevy Impalas & 1/4 something else [SUV]. Keep track of total repair/mileage etc costs and listen to the guys working in them: 6′6″ cops don’t fit well in new Impalas + might increase workman comp claims + bad attitudes. Small young traffic cops might not like cornering/handling of the SUVs… test & adapt.

  21. - Anonymous - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 1:53 pm:

    AWD Subarus are a good idea. What is the cost difference between Crown Vic’s Subarus and Tahoes?

  22. - Healthcare Worker - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 2:19 pm:

    All the Chevy Tahoes, except the hybrid, are flex-fuel. Using E-85, this would fit the “green city” concept very well.

  23. - Dad - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 2:22 pm:

    Love those rims in the picture! Will the Chicago PD get spinners for those Tahoes?

  24. - Little Egypt - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 2:28 pm:

    My experience with a 4WD has not been a good one. The last time I put my Explorer into 4WD, it cost me $600 for a mechanic to get it out. Thus, I just bought a 2WD Jeep Commander. The repair costs of SUV’s will quickly surpass that of the Crown Vics. When it’s not your own POV, the tendency exists to run the wheels off the vehicle and let the other guy (we taxpayers) pay the bill.

  25. - Northside Bunker - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 2:55 pm:


  26. - Anon - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 2:57 pm:

    You guys sure are quick to spend taxpayer funds on this project. Why not just have apolicy to replace the Crown Vics with an SUV, but only when needed, not all at once.

  27. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 3:28 pm:

    Clearly a nutter of an idea designed to shock people into accepting the real concept which will be revealed later.

    A stunning increase in operating costs. While you may want to consider other vehicles, why not put an Equinox based SUV in the mix.

    Newer squad cars, yes, but this is over the top. Hybrid will cost twice what a Crown Vic will cost.

    First of all, hot pursuit is from the days of Mad Max. Too many innocents are mowed down by that technique. So let’s forget this performance thing. (Don’t forget about the increase in rollovers when driving truck based vehicles)

    As many of the folks above have noted, the maintenance costs and acquisition costs will be close to an order higher than that of the old fleet. Value of a police used vehicle will be zero anyway,

  28. - Getting Too Old For This - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 3:32 pm:

    I know of several police departments that used Chevy Tahoes in the late 90’s as a trial. Results were mixed, but their fuel economy was abysmal, and the departments have since gone to Impalas, Crown Victorias or Hemi Chargers.

    Having said that, many police departments use Tahoes, Expeditions, Explorers, and Durangos as canine units, off-road patrol vehicles, or as emergency/disaster response units. If Chicago wants to use an SUV as a beat patrol unit, smaller might be better. Instead of a Tahoe, maybe a Jeep Commander or Ford Explorer would be more fuel-efficient. To those suggesting Subarus, forget it. Outbacks are pushing $35,000 in civilian form and Foresters are too small for the job.

  29. - pickles!! - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 4:41 pm:

    Don’t Canadian Mounties use horses? maybe they could work in chicago. Would keep fuel costs down.

  30. - NumbersGuy - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 5:58 pm:

    Some very good points from North, Little E, Pluto, and Getting too Old.

    Fuel costs would clearly be a negative in an SUV-based fleet, as would the repair cost of many components. On the other hand, any “police pursuit” spec sedan is chock full of heavy duty components that cost much more to replace than the civilian version.

    Flex-fuel is also something that costs more money, especially in a Tahoe. Straight ethanol drops mileage by 25% according to a recent test by Motor Trend of a 2007 Tahoe.

    The cabin and trunk size are also concerns with the Impala/Charger vehicle types, as noted above. There is a large handful of unhappy campers in the ISP since they mandated “safety cages” which take up a lot of cabin space in an Impala. The Impala’s trunk will also not hold one of the Trooper’s department-issued items if that item is properly stowed. (Not to be cryptic here. but I don’t know that the blog world needs to know about this item.)

    IMHO, this vehicle debate will be part of a greater discussion Supt. Weis will be having with his rank and file, commanders, and the City Council as he tries to bring change to the CPD.

    PS:Aside from the lack of funds, there are reasons why you see a variety of firearms in a CPD rollcall. The CPD does not have the FBI’s ability to either train to a standard or remove an officer from duty. Things could get interesting if and when an advanced, high caliber pistol is issued Department-wide.

    PPS: If they get new radios, let’s hope they fare better than the $100 million POS system that CMS bought for the State Police. Al Ronan-lobbied, it was obsolete before it was turned on and is a legitimate officer safety problem.

  31. - Deep Water - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 6:12 pm:

    Looks like the Chicago Po Po will be pimpin’ with those wheels. If they want to help the cops, let the cops walk the beat. In in winter lease a car from one of Daley’s lease companies!!! What a waste of gas.

  32. - Larry Mullholland - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 6:30 pm:

    Seems like a reasonable proposition. Nice rims…

  33. - Shelbyville - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 8:02 pm:

    If they purchased Subarus then people would be complaining that they weren’t built in the US. You can’t win. I like the Chevy.

  34. - Plutocrat03 - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 9:40 pm:

    Dear Shelybville

    Not that I advocate the Subies, but can you peek over the border toward W. Lafayette, IN? Its a Subie factory…. European cops get along with VW Golf size cars…..

    If it has to be an SUV, go for the smaller class. I checked, the 2wd Hybrid Tahoe list for more than 50K (and cannot use E85)

    Good points about E85. If they expect 11 mpg from the gasoline use, you can expect a whopping 8.25 mpg on E85

  35. - Wumpus - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 10:37 pm:

    Also, the shoul dget rid of guns because they leave too much of a carbon footprint and cuffs because they are metal, non recycled metal

  36. - Alan McNish - Thursday, Mar 27, 08 @ 10:43 pm:

    Streets and Sanitation does a pretty good job of clearing snow in Chicago, so I don’t think that’s much of an issue.

    The squad that the City of Chicago should procure is the Dodge Charger V6. It has more room than the Chevy Impala, yet similar fuel economy. There’s really no need for V8 powered squads in the city, since there are very few high speed pursuits.

    The NYPD has had Chargers in their fleet for the last couple of years and they have performed well.

    In addition, instead of charging a fuel surcharge for taxis in Chicago, taxi companies should be forced to get more fuel efficient cars like the Impala and Charger.

  37. - Ahem - Friday, Mar 28, 08 @ 8:24 am:

    Honda makes a nice portable generator that’s quiet and compact. I would imagine that something like that could be adapted to operate as an auxiliary power source. Maybe a US clone (chuckle)?

  38. - VanillaMan - Friday, Mar 28, 08 @ 9:08 am:

    We are not asking which car you would like to see police driving. We are not asking if police cars should get great gas mileage. We are not asking if police cars should be domestically produced.

    We are asking which vehicle does the best police work.

    The police are saying the Chevy Tahoe. What is it that you believe you know about police cars that they do not?

  39. - Ahem - Friday, Mar 28, 08 @ 12:58 pm:

    Well, VanillaMan, how about “We watch a lot of movies?”

  40. - Kevin Fanning - Friday, Mar 28, 08 @ 1:02 pm:


  41. - Andrea - Monday, Apr 14, 08 @ 12:19 pm:

    omg ui love this truck how many mpg does it get?
    how much is it?

  42. - SOMEONE!!!!!!! - Monday, Apr 14, 08 @ 12:36 pm:

    omg i’m useing this for my school project on the coolest wutever so yeah thanks who ever!!!!!!!!!!!

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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