Vail police will drive Volvos
VAIL, Colorado ” For years, the Vail Police Department was known for its unusual Saab patrol cars.
“Tourists always came and were flabbergasted that we drove Saabs,” said Dick Cleveland, current mayor and a former police officer. “It was a great icebreaker.”
Now, the Vail police might have a new conversation starter: Volvo XC90s. On Tuesday, Cleveland and the rest of the Town Council approved money for four Volvo SUV patrol cars and one detective car.
The town will get them at the discount price of $30,000, and Volvo promised to buy back the patrol cars in three years for $15,000.
The town had to approve an additional $64,000 to help buy the cars.
They will replace half of the current fleet, which are Ford Explorers. The town went to the Fords in 2004 after famously using Saabs for many years.
The Aspen Police, which also used to drive Saabs, seem to be the only other department that uses Volvo. But the department is looking to switch over to hybrids next year, and is now testing Toyota Highlander hybrids, said Sally Spaulding, spokeswoman for the city.
Vail chose Volvos were because they are safe, have lots of room and use environmentally friendly manufacture and disposal methods, Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger said. And, importantly, they drive well in snow.
“What we look for here is different than a lot of other places,” Henninger said. “Driving and handling in difficult conditions is the most important.”
Henninger wasn’t sure how fast the Volvos go, but said they are fast enough.
“They are plenty fast, even at the six cylinders,” he said.
Henninger also touts the better gas mileage for the Volvos, which get 17 miles per gallon compared to 13 for the Explorers.
The town did consider Chevy Tahoe hybrids, but those cars were too expensive and unproven as police cars, Henninger said.
Vail already has a wider relationship with Volvo, which is deemed the official vehicle of the town through a deal with the carmaker.
The town gets several Volvos ” they are driven by the town attorney, the town manager, the fire chief, the police chief and other officials ” plus money for uniforms for bus drivers, booth attendants, community hosts as well as recycling bins. In return, Volvo gets to put its logo on uniforms and parking-ticket stubs.
Volvo, which didn’t return a phone call for this story, is also the official vehicle of Vail Resorts.
Cleveland wasn’t sure, though, that the Volvos will be as much of a novelty as the Saabs were. You see more and more alternative kinds of police cars, he said.
“A lot of uniqueness has worn off on the general public,” he said.
Staff Writer Edward Stoner can be reached at 748-2929 or firstname.lastname@example.org.