Equipment problems delay fleet of new Ottawa cop cars

Taxpayers could foot the bill for equipment not fitting in a new fleet of police cruisers but cops remain tight-lipped about how much.

Ottawa police Insp. Uday Jaswal maintains “there has been no cost” to the service, but also said “we don’t have the solution identified yet.”

The fleet of 58 cruisers cost $1.6 million and the 2013 Ford Interceptor patrol cars, modeled after the Taurus, were supposed to be in use by the end of 2012.

But equipment, including mobile data terminals, or laptops, doesn’t fit.

“There was some design changes to the Ford Taurus after we’d seen, sort of, the last mockup of it, which has also caused some challenges for us,” said Jaswal.

Ford Canada is “still working closely with the Ottawa police to meet their needs,” spokeswoman Christine Hollander wrote in an e-mail.

A few cars have been tested and “there’s a process involved in everything from ergonomics to safety, in terms of airbag tests, those types of things, so it’s all taking place right now,” said Jaswal.

In order to pinpoint a feasible fix, the cruisers must undergo road and safety testing.

In the meantime, the Crown Victorias, currently in use, are beat up and continually serviced, sources told the Sun.

If there aren’t enough patrol cars, officers may even “have to double up.”

Front-line marked cruisers and traffic vehicles are usually replaced after three years or 160,000 kms.

Police vehicles that can no longer be used are publicly auctioned with the funds going to the vehicle replacement program.

The Crown Victoria was discontinued about two years ago.

Laptops were ordered specifically for the Crown Vics, Jaswal said.

“We have a touch-screen interface, so there’s a limit to how small a screen we can go with, so we’re trying to maintain the screen size that we currently have,” said Jaswal.

So will police buy new equipment or new cars?

Neither, said Jaswal.

“We’ve already purchased the Taurus, so we’re not, obviously, going to be scrapping the Taurus. We’re going to fit the equipment that we have into it,” he said.

Ford representatives were in town last month to “look at some of the solutions we were examining.”

The problem should be solved by April said Jaswal.

The Sun photographed the new cruisers in the parking lot at Tenth Line station on Jan. 8, barely visible under snow.

The cruisers were cleaned off and moved the next day.

kelly.roche@sunmedia.ca

@ottawasunkroche

http://www.ottawasun.com/2013/01/12/equipment-problems-delay-fleet-of-new-ottawa-cop-cars

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