RICHLAND COUNTY, SC — Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott introduced Friday the Ford Police Interceptor sedan as the new symbol of police presence in the community.
The all-black car will replace the Crown Victoria fleet over the next two years, Lott said. The Interceptor’s paint scheme is changing because it costs less to have one color rather than the two-toned black and silver on the Crown Victorias, he said.
Richland County sheriff’s deputies drove all-black cars until the 1960s when then-Sheriff Frank Powell changed to a black-and-white paint scheme to look like the Los Angeles Police Department, Lott said. The black and silver look was introduced in the 1980s by then-Sheriff Alan Sloan.
Ford in 2011 quit manufacturing the Crown Victoria, which had been used for decades by police departments across the country. In 2010, the Columbia Police Department switched to the Chevrolet Impala.
The Interceptors cost the county $27,000 each. All of the police equipment such as cameras and computers cost another $15,000, Lott said. However, the equipment used in the old cars can be transferred into the new cars.
The sheriff’s department purchases 80 new cars each year, Lott said. Deputies drive cars until they reach about 125,000 miles.
While some sheriff’s department veterans have grumbled over the switch to a smaller car, Lott said the Interceptor will perform well for his department.
“The Crown Vic was a family car made into a police car,” Lott said. “This is a police car. Everything from the brakes to the engine is designed to be a police car.”
The keys to the county’s first new Ford Interceptor were handed over to Deputy Matthew Frost, who has been with the department for 16 months. Frost said he was called in on his day off because he was next on the list to receive a new cruiser. He expected more experienced deputies to raise their eyebrows when he rolled up in the new cruiser when he returns to work next week.
“It was a surprise to me, too,” Frost said.
Anne-Kathryn Flanagan contributed.
Reach Phillips at (803) 771-8307.