The Lexington Division of Police has started replacing its fleet of aging cruisers with newer, sleeker and more fuel efficient Ford Police Interceptors.
The division recently bought 11 of the new cruisers, but only one of them is in use, said Mike Wright, a lieutenant in the police department's bureau of administration.
Eight of the others are awaiting a thorough examination by the city's Division of Fleet Services mechanics and the installation of mobile-data computers, prisoner partitions and emergency lights.
Two have had the equipment installed but have not had decals — the classic blue-and-black stripes and text — put on. Those are to be put in service soon.
"We're still a few months away before we get the other eight up and running," Wright said.
The vehicles, which cost about $26,000 apiece, are the first cruisers bought in Lexington since Ford discontinued its iconic Crown Victoria line last year. Most police departments, including Lexington's, have relied on the time-tested Crown Victoria to form the bulk of their fleets.
Since the Crown Vic's demise, police departments across the nation have had to choose which model vehicle would replace cruisers that have been taken out of service.
The three models in closest competition for government contracts are the Ford Police Interceptor, which is based on the Taurus sedan; the Dodge Charger; and the Chevrolet Caprice. The University of Kentucky police department owns several Chargers, and Kentucky State Police recently bought 125 Caprices.
Wright said Lexington police did extensive research before settling on the Ford Police Interceptor, but they could switch to a different model in the future "depending on how these perform and how well these maintain."
The new Ford cruiser currently in service has performed admirably, he said. Ford has said the new cruisers were designed with police in mind to be more powerful, more fuel-efficient and safer.
Three of Lexington's new cruisers were bought with "vehicle recovery funds," Wright said. That's money acquired when the city sells or scraps aged vehicles.
The city issued bonds to cover the cost of the other eight vehicles, he said.