New Charger is tested in Picayune

Published 4:37 pm Thursday, March 22, 2007

A new police cruiser with sleek looks and sleek handling has been patrolling the streets of Picayune, purchased with funds derived from drug forfeitures.

A Dodge Charger, complete with Picayune Police Department markings, has been patrolling the streets in recent months. That vehicle was paid for by the drug dealers in the city, said Deputy Police Chief David Ervin. If all goes well the Charger could become the standard in police cruisers.

Driven by Capt. Lawrence Krantz, the vehicle does most of its patrolling during the weekends, but also does some on nights when Krantz can’t sleep, he said. On average, he said the car is out on patrol 15 to 20 hours, three or four days a week. Patrol supervisor Krantz was assigned the test vehicle after it was purchased. Krantz said if the vehicle holds up it could become the standard vehicle for the Picayune Police Department. Krantz said the test vehicle is fully loaded with all police options, sans radar and dash cameras since he does a minor part of the actual patrolling. If the fleet is replaced with Chargers then those two options would naturally be added.

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While Krantz said he does most of his patrolling in the car on the weekends, he does assist on big law enforcement operations, such as the recent rash of robberies. While the vehicle does cost a little bit more than the Ford Crown Victorias currently used by the department, the Chargers get better gas mileage, which would save the city money in the long run, according to They also have more horsepower and handling capability than their Ford counterpart.

The 5.7 liter Hemi V8 gives the vehicle the power of 340 horses and the capability to hit the top of the 160 miles per hour speedometer, according to “Hemi” refers to the engine’s design with a hemispherical combustion chamber. The engine design is not exclusive to Chrysler and goes back to 1905 when it was first designed in Belgium. Over the years, engines of that design have been used by many manufacturers, especially in some European cars designed for racing, but Chrysler is the best known user of the engine design because of the number of vehicles it has produced powered by engines of that design since the1950s.

If the new vehicle works out for the Picayune Police Department, then there could be a revamping of the department’s fleet, moving towards all Dodge Chargers.

“It would definitely be progressive,” Krantz said.

On average the department purchases three new patrol vehicles a year.

This particular patrol unit comes fully equipped, without the in-dash camera and radar equipment. Before any would be law breakers get any ideas, all of the other traffic division vehicles have radar and the dash cameras, which also record inside the vehicle for those unruly suspects in custody, Krantz said. Each officer who drives a traffic vehicle also wears a wireless microphone capable of making audio recordings while the officer is many feet from the vehicle. Those video and audio recordings can help to support DUI and other cases in court, Krantz said.

“So the cameras are definitely an asset, not only to the city and the officers but to the city as a whole,” Krantz said.

The car comes standard with the nifty auto stick function, which lets the driver shift manually at the touch of a button. Krantz said that option could be useful in a chase. Combined with the beefed up suspension and the hemi engine, law breakers would have a tough time evading this police vehicle.

“I don’t think, if we get in a pursuit, many people are going to get away from me,” Krantz said.