The Kickass Machines of the NYPD
The country’s largest police department has 9,000 vehicles—including some really awesome toys.
The New York City Police Department is the largest police department in the country, and is comprised of far more than just detectives and beat cops—the NYPD operates divisions ranging from bomb-disposal and harbor patrol to anti-organized crime, air support, and counter-terrorism. All those specialized departments obviously require specialized vehicles, which explains why the NYPD has the most diverse fleet in the country, with 9,000 vehicles covering everything from Smart Cars to 18-wheelers and tanks.
Here, a by-no-means-comprehensive peak behind the garage door at the vehicles that drive (and roll, and protect) the NYPD.
Cruisers (Radio Motor Patrols cars)
Cruisers are the workhorses of any police force. The Ford Crown Victoria P71 has been the NYPD's choice since around 1988. But Ford stopped making them in 2011, so the force has transitioned to the Ford Fusion, the Ford Interceptor, Interceptor Utility, and the occasional Chevy Impala. Although the NYPD had initially invested heavily in the Ford Fusion, the Interceptor won out as the NYPD's vehicle of choice for Radio Motor Patrol cars (RMPs). Utilizing a sporty 3.7L V6, the new fleet of Interceptors make 304-hp—not as fuel efficient as the outgoing hybrid Fusions, but, according to the NYPD, better suited for police work.
In addition to sedans and SUVs, the NYPD uses Chevy Express and Ford E-350 vans for general patrols and distributing foot posts. Some have 4x4, which helps collar bad guys even in inclement weather.
ESU Radio Emergency Patrols
Although the NYPD Emergency Services Unit (which oversees SWAT and other special-tactics and rescue operations) has everything from Ford F-350 duallies to tanks, one of the most frequently-used vehicles in the ESU fleet is the ESU Radio Emergency Patrols (REP). These are light-rescue Ford F-550s, built by Odyssey Specialty Vehicles. Each truck is equipped with medical, forced-entry, water rescue, and confined-space rescue gear, rifles, and much more. In order to keep up the with high call volume associated with NYPD ESU, the F-550s are powered by a 6.7L turbocharged diesel V8 good for 330 hp and 750 lb-ft of torque. These vehicles are placed strategically throughout the city to ensure they are able to respond to high-priority calls, and those where additional resources are needed.
ESU Heavy Rescues
In addition to the REPs, NYPD ESU has 11 heavy rescues, 10 of which are Cyclone II's by E-One and one by Ferrara Fire Apparatus. These vehicles closely resemble the heavy rescues found at your local fire station, but outfitted to control high risk-of-life situations.
As far as armored vehicles are concerned, the NYPD ESU is loaded to the gills, with four Lenco Bearcats, a Lenco Peacekeeper, and several Lenco Bears, plus a flurry of random armored vehicles specialized for dozens of delicate and high-risk situations. Also, the unit is now strategically armoring the doors of RMPs using ballistic plating.
The NYPD's Highway Patrol has over 100 Harley-Davidsons for traffic enforcement and parade, funeral, and diplomatic details. Able to maneuver through traffic, the bikes cost just $20,000, rather than $35k-$40k for a fully outfitted RMP. (The NYPD can get a better deal on RMPs from the manufacturer, as the buy them in bulk.)
The NYPD Highway Patrol is equipped with significantly more powerful vehicles than the standard RMP; they also happen to be have the largest concentration of Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors (P71). With a 4.6L V8 under the hood, P71s can run down most cars on the open road. But even though NYPD HWY carefully maintains its Crown Vics, they're still in dire need of replacement. Enter the new Ford Interceptors (with a 3.5L twin-turbocharged V6), Dodge Chargers (5.7L V8) and the Chevrolet Tahoe (5.3L V8). All of these options are more than capable of catching up to a suspect, performing high-speed maneuvers, and protecting diplomats.
Although some of the large number of unmarked sedans and SUVs scattered throughout NYC belong to federal agencies like the FBI, Secret Service, ATF, and DEA, the vast majority of them belong to the NYPD—the detectives, in particular. In order to keep a low profile, detectives, certain patrols, higher-ranking officers, parts of ESU, protective details, and other investigative divisions utilize unmarked versions of the Chevy Impalas, Ford Fusions, Ford Interceptors, Ford Interceptor Utilities, Chevy Tahoes, Chevy Suburbans, and Ford Escapes that make up the cruiser fleet. Many of the officers in these vehicles are in plain clothes while working, and do not typically participate in routine patrols.
In addition to NYPD ESU, the NYPD has a flurry of specialized units—and the bomb squad is one of their most prestigious. Protecting the city from WMDs, IEDs, and anything else that goes boom, the NYPD Bomb Squad is loaded with tools. The Bomb Squad currently uses E-One rescue vehicles, GMC Yukon XLs, Chevy Suburbans, Ford E-350s, trailers, and more. When the bomb squad is deployed, it often rolls in a group that includes their E-One as well as several unmarked vehicles to transport additional personnel. Like many of the specialty units, there are too many different vehicles to mention; however, if you keep your head on a swivel, you will notice them regularly patrolling the city.
The Interceptor IIs were great little three-wheeled vehicles used by the NYPD to navigate city parks, traffic, and large crowds. But they had a reputation for being uncomfortable and had started to become outdated. Rather than losing the maneuverability of these small vehicles, NYPD opted to switch to Smart cars. With essentially the same dimensions but more creature comforts, the Smart ForTwo is a much-welcomed addition/upgrade to the fleet. Still, considering the other vehicles in the fleet, the Smart's 89 hp and a 0-60 time of 9.9 seconds ... brutal.
The NYPD used to have a M114 Armored Recon Vehicle in their fleet, but I'm pretty sure that has since been retired. The NYPD now utilizes MRAPs (for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) to keep their officers safe during high-risk situations. Many police departments throughout the country use the 1033 Program to obtain lightly-used military vehicles for appropriate urban application.