Newspaper editorial on NYS Senate´s Crown Victoria Police Interceptor report

Newspaper editorial on NYS Senate’s Crown Victoria Police Interceptor report
PBA, 2003-12-23

The Journal News newspaper published an editorial in its December 23 editions regarding the New York State Senate Investigations Committee’s report on the safety of Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors. To read the editorial, click on the link or refer to the text below.

A state Senate committee, issuing a final report last week, was able to note progress toward safety improvements in the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, which dominates the police-car market in the country.

The Committee on Investigations, Taxation and Government Operations, chaired by Sen. Nicholas Spano, R-Yonkers, went to work on the issue after Robert Ambrose, a 31-year-old trooper from Pearl River, was killed on Dec. 19, 2002. His Interceptor, parked on the shoulder of Interstate 87 in Yonkers, burst into flames when it was hit from behind by a speeding vehicle. Other police officers had died in similar explosions, attributed to a design flaw in the car.

Ford has retrofitted the cars with plastic shields to protect gas tanks and with "trunk packs" to contain gear that could become dangerous in a crash. The measures are short of full protection. More promising is an instantaneous fire-suppression system Ford is now testing and plans to introduce in the car’s 2005 model. The system was unveiled after the committee’s consultation with the auto-maker.

Spano’s committee, while pushing Ford to speed up its work on the system, rightly recommends that the state insist that it be included in new cars it buys. The senator hopes Ford will make the system standard, rather than optional, so that agencies would not have the chance to opt out of what will be a more expensive, but safer, vehicle.

Among other recommendations, the committee urges Assembly approval of a Senate-passed Spano bill requiring drivers to slow down or pull over when approaching an emergency vehicle with flashing lights, a common-sense measure already enacted in 22 other states.