LaSalle County, Ill. Sheriff
the LaSalle County Sheriff, the primary advantage of the half-ton truck for
police work is price. A four-door, 4x4, V8-powered truck for about the same
cost as the average police sedan—and far less than a police crossover or police
County is the second largest county in Illinois. Most of its 1,100 square miles
is rural: field corn and soy beans as far as the eye can see. There are only
five towns in the county with a population of over 5,000 people. All the rest
is rural with a total population of 114,000. The sheriff’s department has 38
the recent winter with the third most snowfall on record, the pickups proved
their worth. In fact, the pickups worked right alongside the department’s
military surplus Hummers. They did the same thing even though the Hummers had
aggressive off-road tires and the pickups had OE all-season tires. This was
also the coldest December to March on record. The diesel powered snow plows
gelled up while the pickups started every time and ran flawlessly.
course, the advantage of a 4x4 pickup is ground clearance. In addition to snow
accumulation, both the 4x4 and the ground clearance really matter on some
wooded lanes, cross-culverts, field lanes, access roads, field right-of-way,
even some gravel roads, and definitely crossing medians. “There is a reason
conservation officers use pickups,” Sheriff Tom Templeton said.
sees the 4x4 pickup as a true multi-use vehicle. The pickup fits anywhere. It
is so common and low profile it can be used as a surveillance vehicle—hidden in
plain view. It can also be used in traffic enforcement. Nothing blends in
better in a rural community than a pickup.
scenarios ideal for a pickup are also the ones where 100 mph is fast enough for
nearly all police tasks. “I would rather have the top speed where it is,” Sheriff
Templeton commented. He sees the speed-limited as an advantage. “We can’t help
if we don’t get there.”
large percentage of LCSD deputies are cross-trained as tactical officers. That
means they need to carry tactical gear in addition to patrol gear: ballistic
shields, helmets, hard armor, a variety of long guns, and extra ammo. The
pickup offers space that sedans don’t.
LCSD pickups use a rigid, lockable tonneau cover, an $800 cost. The cover
secures the bed cargo, of course, and holds a lot of gear. However, the tonneau
cover has another less obvious advantage. It is strong enough to allow a deputy
to stand on it for late-night surveillance.
lack of a temperature/humidity controlled cargo compartment like an SUV has not
been an issue. There is plenty of storage in the second row seats. The seats
fold up for large volume items. Importantly, there is a lot of storage room
under the rear seat…enough for a patrol rifle laid on top of two filled storage
is a definite officer safety aspect of using pickups for patrol. The pickup is
much safer than a sedan if the deputy hits a deer, which happens. Of course,
physical size and weight equal crash safety, all else equal. One deputy was
T-boned behind the B-pillar of the pickup. The truck was totaled, but the
officer did not miss a day of work.
LCSD was 100 percent Ford CVPI. Like many departments, they used a mix of
vehicles as initial replacements. This included a few Charger Pursuit V8s and a
few Ford PI Sedans (primarily for the AWD capability). Half of the new vehicles
are RAM 1500 SSVs. Importantly, nearly all of the future vehicles will be the
pickup. However, the LCSD is taking a hard look at the new Charger Pursuit AWD.
in their third year with pickups as patrol vehicles, the first pickups went to
larger, taller officers. Then the pickups were spread across all three shifts.
Their first trucks used the 4.7L V8; the second round was a mix of 4.7L V8 and
5.7L V8. All of the new trucks now have the 5.7L V8.
the pickup is steadily replacing the sedan, officers are generally given a
choice between RAM 1500 SSV, Charger Pursuit V8 or Ford PI Sedan AWD. The RAM
1500 5.7L V8 gets the same average gas mileage in patrol use as the Ford CVPI
4.6L V8. The LaSalle County Sheriff’s Department keeps their patrol vehicles
for four years with an average lifecycle of 140K miles. Running the pickups for
five years, or 180K miles, is “within realm.”
the LCSD’s experience, the public’s reaction has been as positive as the
deputies who drive the trucks. “The public understands. It is a fit for the
rural culture,” Sheriff Templeton stated. The officers have had nothing bad to
say, and neither has the public. Occasionally, a citizen will say to the Sheriff,
“nice truck…what did that cost?” Some of the public doesn’t believe the answer.
“I offer to show them the invoices,” Sheriff Templeton said.
is one of the better things I have done,” Sheriff Templeton elaborated.
Pickups vs. Sedans for Police Patrol
- Longer duty
- Lower or
comparable initial cost
- Lower or
comparable maintenance and repair
- Faster or
variety of upfit accessories
- Lower top
- Cargo is
not temperature/humidity controlled
required for lockable cargo
- Lower or
comparable fuel economy