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Dodge Charger police cars: where they are, who is using them

Dodge Charger pursuit carsCompetitive comparisons Challenger squads

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Almost immediately after they became available, the Dodge Charger police package was ordered by hundreds of departments across the country, often in small quantities for testing purposes which became larger numbers as the early police cars worked out well. NASA even ordered one as a "chase plane" for landing its ER-2 planes safely; NASA's police-specification Charger is driven routely to 120 mph as the pilot-driver reads instructions to the ER-2 pilot (Jalopnik).

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Adamson Industries claimed that the North Carolina Highway Patrol experienced higher gas mileage with the Hemi than the 3.5 V6, due to the multiple displacement system. (Thanks, Chief Michael Poulin - Milo, Maine PD.)

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More than 2,500 police Chargers were sold in 2006; 8,000 in 2007; and 10,000 were projected for 2008 (as of September). Saudi Arabia bought hundreds in 2008 and 2009. (We do not have numbers after 2008.)

Florida Highway Patrol

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In 2008, the Florida Highway Patrol received bids of for the Ford Crown Victoria ($21,780), Chevrolet Impala ($18,898), and Dodge Charger Hemi ($21,973); prices included paint, lights, radio, and other equipment. The Impalas were not pursuit vehicles. They ordered 211 Fords and 102 Dodge Chargers for patrol and pursuit; of the Chargers, ten each were assigned to the ten Highway Patrol troops, and two were used for training. In 2010, the Dodge Charger was cleared as a standard option, priced at $21,000; the Ford at $24,614. The Troopers have been overwhelmingly choosing Chargers.

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Mopar Action's Rick Ehrenberg wrote about his ride with a trooper in a new Charger, including high-speed pursuits.

The Los Angeles police purchased 100 new Charger Pursuits, all V6-powered, along with 50 Explorers and 38 Taurus police cars; the Chargers are all rear wheel drive V6 models, while the Fords are all wheel drive. A department representative said they didn't need the Hemi power because the V6 Chargers were about as fast as the old V8 Crown Victorias they are replacing.

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The California Highway Patrols switched to Chargers in 2016, moving away from crossovers, with an order of 580 cars.

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Demand for the Charger has been national in scope. Highway and pursuit vehicles are generally V8s, and standard patrols are generally getting V6s.

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These State Police, provincial, and highway-authority buys were reported to us: Alabama (many Chargers in 2008); Alaska (starting 2009); Alberta; Arkansas (160 Hemi cars and some V6 sedans), California (starting 2008), Colorado (starting in 2009), Connecticut (starting with 11 unmarked Dodge Hemis in 2007), Delaware, Florida (starting 2008), Georgia, Illinois, Iowa (22 in 2006), Kansas, Massachusetts, Maryland, Michigan (added 2008), Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina (V6 for most officers), North Dakota (Hemis), New York (starting 2014, officers could choose a Dodge or Ford), Oklahoma Turnpike, Oregon (Hemis); Rhode Island, Texas; Utah (starting 2006); Utah, Virginia (Hemis starting in 2006), Washington, Wisconsin (starting in 2006), Wyoming. The dates mentioned here are when we first heard about the cars.

For 2013, Curtis Redgap wrote that 20 states have signed up with the Dodge Charger; that includes New York and Florida, where the officers can choose a car. In Florida, around 80% of troopers chose Chargers. 18 states signed up with Fords, mainly with Explorers. One Texas officer said they weren't impressed by the Fords, but that cost may trump other factors. Tennessee and Delaware have gone for the Chevy. (Vermont and New Jersey bids were not available; New Jersey is a low-bid state and Vermont has a very small purchase.)

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For 2013, in Florida, the front drive Impala was cheapest at $19,864, the Caprice priciest at $26,194. The next cheapest car is the Ford front-drive sedan at $22,030, followed by the Charger V6 at $22,359. The Ford AWD comes in at $22,614. Ford Utilities are priced at $24,400.

The Mexican Highway Patrol acquired a fleet of 816 Chargers in 2007, replacing both Crown Victorias and Intrepids. "The Dodge Charger police package made fans of the Mexican Federal Police, who commented that these new patrol cars have improved performance and more modern equipment such as the Global Positioning System and a 360° vision camera that reaches 100 meters and can be remote-control operated." Pollution-troubled Mexico City bought 751 Neons for its police department in 2005; the adjoining city of Nauculpan also bought a batch of Chargers.

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Curtis Redgap noted that the policy of the FHP is to chase criminals until they are caught, so they can be demanding on their cars. Few troopers are hurt during high-speed pursuits, according to Curtis, with most injuries are deaths occuring while parked or at other activites; the troopers are known for high-speed driving skills. Units are on a three-year turnover and can be extended for up to six years (as the last Diplomats and Impalas were).

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The New York City police purchased fifteen units in 2006 for testing, with ten Hemis and five V6s (for city-street use). The NYPD has 3,000 vehicles and stuck with Chrysler until 1989, when the last rear-drive Chrysler car of the 20th Century was sold; those Diplomats and Gran Furys were kept around for an unusually long time. (Thanks, Doug Hetrick.) We don't know how the Chargers are doing now; New York City standardized on Impalas before the Charger came out, and Mayor Bloomberg is an enthusiastic follower of alternative powertrains. An NYC parking lot in late 2009 had a mix of cars including a fully-marked Nissan.

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Regarding Virginia, Trooper T. Cashin wrote in 2006: "Most will be fully marked, with a few slicktops and unmarked. They should all be ready for 2007 our 75th Anniversary with new graphics that I designed for my department. All of them are Hemis, therefore my department is treating them as high performance vehicles and requires high performance driver training for those selected to get one."

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Dodge Chargers of Mexico

Jaime Hale wrote:

Mexican president Calderón posted for a photo opp, giving the go-ahead to a bunch of Charger police cruisers that are now an integral part of our Federal Highway Police, an institution that has almost always had Dodges in its fleet.

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In the 1970s, those guys had Super Bees. These were Plymouth Dusters (Valiant Duster in Mexico) with a 4-barrel 318 LA engine, with Hurst shift lever, fat tires, the works. They were the fastest cars in the country. From then they had the local versions of the Aspen/Volare with the 360 V8, but in the early 1980s they switched brands to GM.

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By 1988 they had a local version of the Plymouth Caravelle, turbocharged and everything. It was fast. Even though this car was a regular sedan, its aerodynamics were such that the car could drive safely at very high speeds. Then in the 1990s, NAFTA came on line and we saw Intrepids, Impalas and Crown Vics doing the job, until now, when Dodge showed up with the Charger.

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The Mexican Federal Highway Police chose the Charger in 2007 . They bought 816 cars, out of which 396 have the 340 hp Hemi engine, and the rest have the 3.5 V6 rated at 250 hp. Differences between the street Charger and the police cruisers include a reinforced suspension, oil coolers for both the engine and the transmission, communications equipment including GPS, and a 360-degree video camera.
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