Aspen Saab story: no new police cars |

Aspen Saab story: no new police cars

Janet Urquhart

Without a suitable gas-electric hybrid for its police fleet, Aspen will stick with its Saab squad cars for another year rather than buy gas-guzzling SUVs.The City Council balked last month at a proposal to buy four Dodge Durangos for $90,080 and begin converting its police fleet to SUVs, now that Saab is no longer interested in leasing cop cars to the resort at below market rates.But the council’s desire to be proactive on the environmental front by converting the fleet to gas-electric hybrid vehicles has stalled, at least for the time being.The city has negotiated a one-year extension of its lease with Saab for the police vehicles that were to be replaced, though not at a discount rate.”The days of the sweetheart deal with Saab are over,” said Randy Ready, assistant city manager.And, the council agreed to buy the leased Saab that council members use when they have to travel on city business, unless the city can secure a hybrid Toyota Prius by January, when the lease for the council’s Saab expires.The council had a chance to take a look at Ford’s new hybrid SUV, the Escape, last week. But Police Chief Loren Ryerson urged council members to shy away from the fuel-efficient technology for his officers until a hybrid vehicle made for police use is available.The electrical system on the hybrids isn’t made to run both the vehicle and the extra needs of a squad car – its lights, siren and radio, Ryerson said.”You can run the motor, or you can run the lights, but not both,” he said.”For public safety purposes, hybrids, at this point, don’t make any sense,” Ryerson said. “If we want to make a statement about hybrids, don’t do it with public safety vehicles. This is people’s lives you’re dealing with.”The Saab, Ryerson added, also has its drawbacks. Council members peered into the trunk of the squad car, which is packed with equipment.Ryerson called the Saabs “barely adequate.”They can’t be outfitted with “cages” to separate back-seat passengers from officers in front, he said. “We’ve had some assaults that have occurred in the cars,” Ryerson said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is

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