In a personality shift that would make Madonna jealous, the hybrid gas-electric vehicle is being transformed from ecoweenie-mobile to lean green crime-fighting machine. Law enforcement departments across the country are considering the use of hybrid vehicles as police cruisers. It’s a logical move that follows the same path as many mass transit agencies switching to hybrid buses and fleet vehicles—to save on fuel costs and reduce their environmental impact.
Police cruisers are on patrol for most of their shifts. Therefore, the potential fuel savings from hybrids are significant. Hybrids are commonly replacing the mainstay law enforcement vehicle, the Ford Crown Victoria, which is powered by a V8 engine that ekes out fuel economy in the low teens or high single digits.
Hawaii’s Honolulu Police Department (HPD) will soon be starting with seven hybrid vehicles, including six sedans and a SUV. The likeliest sedan candidate is the Toyota Prius, while the Ford Escape Hybrid and Mercury Mariner Hybrid are the usual suspects for the hybrid SUV. HPD Chief Boisse Correa said he is not worried about the hybrids speed because the department thinks high-speed chases are too dangerous, anyway.