Baltimore County police officers will soon be getting behind the wheels of new cruisers.
The county is replacing its fleet of Ford Crown Victorias with the Interceptor, another Ford model based on the company's popular Taurus line. The first 50 Interceptors have been purchased for about $26,000 each and will be placed into service in December.
Over six years, the county will replace 450 Crown Victorias.
"Having the right tools to do the job makes a difference for our police officers," said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.
Police Chief James W. Johnson said the cars were chosen from among three other models after the Crown Victoria model was discontinued.
"This is really a significant period for us. A change in car kind of marks a time for a police officer as they go through their career," Johnson said. "When we meet later in our careers, we often say 'I drove the Pontiac,' or 'I drove the Chevy Malibu,' or 'I drove the Crown Vic for over a decade.' "
The New York Police Department and Virginia State Police are among others to adopt the Interceptor sedans, according to Ford's website. Rockville police and the Charles County sheriff's office also use the vehicles.
Johnson said a departmental panel chose the car because of its cost and performance. "It handles … like a sports car," Johnson said. "This really is a state-of-the-art vehicle."
The new vehicles get better gas mileage, at 21 miles per gallon, which officials said is a 20 percent improvement over the Crown Victoria; has more air bags, making it safer; and has all-wheel drive for inclement weather.
The department will begin placing the new cars in the more rural precincts, including Cockeysville and Franklin.
Earlier this year, the department announced that it was replacing nearly 2,000 departmental service weapons, costing the county close to $1 million. The department has said it plans to sell the old weapons to county police officers or to other law enforcement agencies.
Officials said the old Crown Victorias will be sold at police auctions as the department upgrades to the new cars.