New SUVs ahead for city police

Now that Ford Motor Company no longer manufactures the Crown Victoria (for years the standard for police cruisers) the Marietta Police Department is looking at Ford’s new Interceptor line of vehicles that are specially designed for police work.

Chief Brett McKitrick said the new cars would replace three current cruisers that are at least five years old. The department has a total of 11 cruisers at this time.

But the cost of three new Interceptor SUVs under the state bid list was apparently a difficult pill to swallow for at least one city councilman during a police and fire committee meeting Wednesday.

“I understand the need for new cruisers, but we’re looking at $105,000 for three vehicles,” said Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, who chairs council’s finance committee.

He asked why the department is requesting SUVs instead of smaller vehicles.

McKitrick said Ford’s new sedans are smaller than the Crown Victorias and would not have much room for necessary police equipment.

Councilman Mike McCauley, D-2nd Ward, a former Marietta police officer, agreed.

“These vehicles are essentially an office for officers while they’re on the road,” he said.

McKitrick added that the new Interceptors would be powered by six-cylinder engines that are more fuel-efficient than the Crown Victoria’s eight-cylinder engines.

“My only concern is this will cost $105,000,” Vukovic said. “So I would ask the chief to see if there could be any alternatives before we agree to purchase these vehicles.”

McKitrick said he would check into other possible alternatives and report back to the committee at a later date.

Also on Wednesday, Eric Lambert, project manager with the city engineering department, told council’s streets committee that one of the city’s three duckbill backflow prevention valves had failed due to erosion undercutting the headwall to which the duckbill is attached.

The valves were installed along the Ohio and Muskingum rivers in 2009 to help prevent flooding from river waters backing up into city storm sewers.

The disabled valve is located on the river directly behind the city’s wastewater treatment plant.

“We need to reset the headwall and get this duckbill working again, and want to do the work prior to the (River Trail) bike path being constructed across that area,” Lambert said.

He said the engineering and design cost for the project would be $9,460, in addition to the construction cost, which he roughly estimated could be up to $30,000.

Lambert also said he would contact the city law director to see if a portion of those costs could be recouped from the original design engineer or contractor who installed the duckbill valves.