Press Release from the PBA regarding Crown Victoria patrol cars

Press Release from the PBA regarding Crown Victoria patrol cars
PBA, 2003-01-02



The State Troopers PBA is advising its members – Troopers and all uniformed State Police supervisors through the rank of Major – to refuse to drive Ford Crown Victoria patrol cars until the Division of State Police retrofits these cars with plastic shields designed to reduce the likelihood of gas tank explosions in rear end crashes.

The PBA is taking this stand following the tragic death of Trooper Robert Ambrose on December 19, 2002. Trooper Ambrose was completing an accident investigation in a Crown Victoria parked along the shoulder of the Thruway in Yonkers when an uninvolved sport utility vehicle crashed into the rear of the patrol car. The patrol car burst into flames.

Even more tragic than Trooper Ambrose’s death was the fact it may have been avoidable. In October, the Division of State Police assured the PBA the installation of these plastic shields would be a priority. However, more than two months later, a Trooper is dead and a large number of patrol cars still have not been retrofitted with these shields.

“We do not know if the plastic shield would have ultimately saved Trooper Ambrose, but we are outraged that the Division of State Police did not take every step to stack the odds in his favor,” said PBA President Daniel M. De Federicis in a letter to each of the 3,400 PBA members on the job. “If a simple step such as this retrofit can improve our chances of survival by only 1 percent, then we expect the Division to immediately take that step.”

PBA President De Federicis has demanded that the Division immediately take all affected Crown Victorias out of service until they are properly fitted with the shields. The Division’s answer was that it would not remove these cars from service, but would make sure that all cars assigned to the interstate highway patrol be of the retrofitted variety.

“This is completely unacceptable to the PBA. Could these decision makers at Division live with themselves if another Trooper is killed because of their failure to prioritize these necessary safety changes that Ford has recommended?” said Troop T Delegate Keith Forte, who represents Troopers stationed along the Thruway.

A troop car could just as easily be involved in a rear end collision on a non-interstate highway as an interstate road. Until the Division takes action to ensure the safety of all Troopers, the PBA is directing its members to refuse to drive the Crown Victorias that have not been retrofitted. In addition to the letter to the members advising them of this, the PBA has sent a preprinted grievance form for them to file with the Division to object to their placement in peril.

The PBA is also calling on the Ford Motor Company to acknowledge the problem of Crown Victorias exploding in rear end collisions and to take even further steps utilizing the latest technology available. The Crown Victoria fuel system does not utilize state-of-the-art safety technology and needs to be completely redesigned with the safety of the occupants the first concern.

For more information contact PBA President Dan De Federicis at 518-462-7448.