Staff photo by Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor
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The Gardner Police Department has five new Dodge Chargers in its fleet.
All five are replacement vehicles for existing patrol cars that Police Chief Kenneth Francis said have reached the end of their usefulness.
One of the Chargers is currently being used for patrol.
The remainder are expected to be in service once they are decaled and fitted with interior equipment.
Francis said Gardner is one of many police departments that are making the switch from Ford Crown Victorias to Dodge Chargers.
That’s because Ford halted production on the Crown Vic this year.
“And so we reviewed Dodges, Chevys and Fords, and then selected the Dodge Charger,” Francis said.
The cars were purchased for between $21,000 to $22,000 each, which Francis said is within $1,000 of the cost of the Crown Victorias.
Francis said the department researched the Chargers through other agencies before deciding to use them in place of the Crown Victoria, which was popular for its Police Interceptor package.
Dodge also offers a police package, however Francis said the department will have to spend about $3,500 for interior equipment such as computers and shotgun racks.
Existing equipment from the Crown Victorias will not fit in the new Chargers.
For example, “our light bars will work but not the brackets,” Francis said.
Francis said he expects the Chargers to save money on fuel.
Crown Victorias are equipt with eight cylinder engines, whereas the Chargers have six cylinders.
“I think the six cylinder (engine) will help in the future with fuel,” Francis said. “I was impressed with the Chargers’ smoothness and ability to get up to speed quickly.
“There is not a lot of difference between a Crown Victoria and a Charger in get-up-and-go.”
Francis said his department’s vehicle replacement policy generally calls for replacement of patrol cars every three years or 100,000 miles.
Unmarked cars are replaced every 10 years or 100,000 miles, unless a car turns out to be a “lemon.,” Francis said.
“Generally speaking those are the numbers we use,” he said.
Francis added that the department “enjoys a reasonable amount of trade-in” on the old patrol cars.