Saturday, January 20, 2018
Public safety

Plant City goes retro with black-and-white police cars

TAMPA — That car with flashing lights in the rearview mirror will soon have a new look, though baby boomers might think they've traveled back in time.

Starting this spring, Plant City police will rotate their aging Ford Crown Victoria and Chevrolet Impala cruisers with Ford Taurus interceptors painted in classic black and white.

Think a souped-up version of television's Adam 12 with the top and doors painted white and the rest of the vehicle black, including the rims. The department's Impalas and Crown Victorias are white with blue lettering.

"We're designing a car for the ages and black and white is classic and we can use that design far into the future," Sgt. Tray Towles said. "You can't mistake it for anything but a police car."

The first six cruisers are set to arrive in April. The department expects to replace all of its 85 cars — 65 cruisers and 20 unmarked cars — in about five years.

The move comes after a leadership change in January in which Chief Bill McDaniel moved into the newly created position of assistant city manager in charge of police and fire, code enforcement and information technology. He was replaced at the department by Capt. Steve Singletary.

Towles and other administrative-level officers approached Singletary in late December about the new vehicles. Singletary asked the department's employee advisory board to review available models and make a recommendation.

Though other models drove a little faster, the group settled on the Taurus, which came in about $1,000 more than the Impala but offered more room for officers and their gear. Officials ordered the new vehicles about a week ago.

"We also got some good feedback from Tampa police," Sgt. Al Van Duyne said. "The Fords are very reliable. A lot of it comes from Ford's background as a mainstay in the market. The Crown Vic was the workhorse for years."

Police departments usually replace their cars after 100,000 miles or seven years, though budget cutbacks have pushed those guidelines farther out to help departments save money.

At some point, though, rising maintenance costs make it impractical to retain a fleet of aging cruisers. Some of Plant City's cars go back more than 10 years.

Van Duyne said the department is looking forward to the roomier Tauruses. The Impalas are more compact up front. Adding a laptop and other devices can make it too cluttered for passengers, whether a supervisor or officer trainee. The Taurus also has more trunk space for weapons and gear.

While roominess was one reason the rank and file backed the new cars, another was that it simply looked cool.

"This car is black and white and it's tough," Towles said. "It's a tough looking car. That's also why the guys like it."

Rich Shopes can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 661-2454.

Comments
Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

Diver from Dover dies in treacherous Eagle’s Nest cave

WEEKI WACHEE — The Hernando County Sheriff’s Office on Saturday investigated the death of a Hillsborough County man in the Eagle’s Nest, an underwater network of caves where at least 11 others have died since 1981.Even experienced divers have lost th...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Bicyclist dead after being hit by car in Pinellas Park

PINELLAS PARK — A bicyclist is dead after he was hit by a car just before 10 a.m. Saturday morning, police said.Police were still investigating the crash in the 8700 block of 49th Street N late Saturday morning.Police shut down northbound 49th Street...
Published: 01/20/18

Motorcyclist crashes into Subaru while trying to flee Pinellas deputies

CLEARWATER — A 21-year-old fleeing from deputies on a motorcycle crashed into car while speeding away from a cruiser Friday, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. Michael Brown, of Clearwater, was recklessly driving his 2016...
Published: 01/20/18

Clearwater man in critical condition after medical episode while driving

DUNEDIN — A 60-year-old Clearwater man who likely had a medical episode while driving is now in the hospital with life-threatening injuries after rolling over his car, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. A Largo police off...
Published: 01/20/18

Four people linked to Tampa carjacking captured hours later

TAMPA — It took officers just 27 minutes Friday night to capture four people who they said stole a car from its owner.The incident started outside the Ybor Coffee Shop at 5:45 a.m. A group approached the driver as he sat in his 2010 Toyota Corolla. T...
Published: 01/19/18

Florida National Guard soldier killed, five injured in Sebring crash

SEBRING — A soldier with the Florida National Guard was killed and five others were hospitalized after a multi-vehicle crash on Friday, officials said.The crash took place at about 1 p.m. at the intersection of U.S. 27 and Hammock Road.The soldiers ...
Published: 01/19/18
Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

Two New Port Richey men accused of stealing $11,000 in cellphone merchandise

NEW PORT RICHEY — Two New Port Richey men face charges after Pasco County deputies say they stole about $11,000 worth of cellphones and cellphone equipment at a Metro PCS store on State Road 54.Robert Jackson and Ronald Hartshorn were arrested Wednes...
Published: 01/19/18
Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

Autopsy: drugs found in MLB star Roy Halladay’s system after plane crash

When former Major League Baseball pitcher Roy Halladay died in a plane crash in November, he had amphetamines, morphine and the sleep aid zolpidem in his system, according to an autopsy report. Halladay, 40, died from blunt force trauma with drownin...
Published: 01/19/18
Former youth football president accused of stealing $29,000 from Pinellas league

Former youth football president accused of stealing $29,000 from Pinellas league

PALM HARBOR — The former president of a local youth football league is accused of stealing thousands of dollars from the group and using it in part to buy a mobile home.According to the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, deputies on Tuesday arrested L...
Published: 01/19/18
Rapper Kodak Black arrested in Florida on grand theft, other charges

Rapper Kodak Black arrested in Florida on grand theft, other charges

FORT LAUDERDALE — Rapper Kodak Black has been ordered held without bail in Florida on seven felony charges that include child neglect and drug possession.The Broward Sheriff’s Office arrested the 20-year-old rapper, whose real name is Dieuson Octave,...
Published: 01/19/18