The Bel Air Police Department is continuing to add new vehicles with an all-black paint scheme to its fleet, as it replaces its aging white cars.
The department recently received authorization to purchase two 2015 all-wheel drive Ford Police Interceptor sedans and a 2015 four-wheel drive Ford F250 pickup truck with a crew cab.
The sedans, which are being acquired for $23,504 each, will replace a 2001 Chevrolet Impala with 90,000 miles and a 2005 Impala with 83,000 miles, Chief Leo Matrangola said. The older vehicles won't be traded or sold, but will assigned to the town's department of public works.
The new pickup is being acquired for $28,948 and will replace a smaller, 2003 pickup with 88,000 miles that will be transferred to the IT department. Like the cruisers, it will be black with white lettering.
Hertrich Ford of Easton is the vendor for the Police Interceptors; Apple Ford of Columbia for the F250. The purchases are being made under statewide contracts which bid prices hold for a period of time, typically a year, and counties and municipalities can buy the vehicles depending on availability, Matrangola said.
Matrangola said the police fleet is on a seven-year replacement schedule. The new Police Interceptors will bring the fleet's total to nine, and there will be 13 Impalas remaining.
The BAPD began purchasing Ford Police Interceptors, which are the current generation Taurus, in 2012. The new Fords were painted all black, with white lettering, as opposed to the white paint with green lettering and trim scheme that was used for the Impalas and earlier cruisers for some 25 years.
Police officials said at the time the paint change was made in part because the white cars were occasionally mistaken for cars used by BGE meter readers and vice-versa, as well as for Harford County Sheriff's Office cruisers, which are white with blue lettering and trim and have a large presence in town because it's the home of the agency's headquarters.
Matrangola said his officers are happy with the Police Interceptors, which he noted performed well in last year's snowy weather, when the front-wheel drive Impalas used by his department and the Sheriff's Office did not.
The new pickup will be used for traffic control and in "high visibility" situations, such as major events in town, the chief said. It can be used to haul traffic cones and barricades and other equipment and will have a larger bed than the one it is replacing.
The Board of Town Commissioners approved the police vehicle purchases at the Sept. 15 town meeting. Also approved was an $18,729 contract with Breckford Corporation of Hanover for the installation of light bars and other equipment and the radio transfers.
The new vehicles are expected to be delivered by Nov. 1 and should be on the road by Thanksgiving, Matrangola said.