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Patrol cars with new look now on streets

Vicksburg police officers Rudolph Walker, right, and Alvin Wells talk while they control traffic following a wreck at the intersection of Clay and Adams Wednesday. The car behind them sports the new markings for the city’s police vehicles. (Brian LodenThe Vicksburg Post)

[10/9/04]Vicksburg’s new police cars have hit the streets along with new vehicle striping that will soon be followed with new uniforms.

Police Chief Tommy Moffett said it’s part of the new image that he and the city administration want to create for the department.

“We’ve gotten only positive comments about them so far,” Moffett said.

The department put 16 new cruisers and two crime scene trucks into service last month. The cars, which are new Chevrolet Impalas, replaced older Ford Crown Victorias that were retired from the fleet.

The vehicles and the new markings were paid for using the $629,555 confiscated by police in 2002 after a pickup was stopped on Interstate 20.

Moffett said that plans are to eventually replace all of the police department’s 75 cruisers with Impalas, but there are no plans to buy any additional cars this year. He said that they are currently looking to replace the striping on all of the department’s marked cars.

“We’ve been trying for the past few years to change our whole image,” Moffett said. “In dealing with anything there is a psychological effect and this might be something to help moral. We’re not only changing what we know and how we do business, but we’re changing our appearance as well.”

Moffett took over the police department in 2001 shortly after the new city administration took office. Formerly the chief of the Biloxi Police Department, Moffett said from the beginning that he wanted to overhaul the Vicksburg department.

Changes since he took over have included a new merit-based pay scale and a strict code of discipline. Plans later this year also call for new uniforms and a new sleeve patch for officers.

“We put a lot of thought into that so that it would really represent the whole community,” Moffett said of the patch designed by officers.

The new uniforms expected to debut in December will have navy pants with French blue shirts and the new patches will feature images of the Vicksburg National Military Park Memorial Arch with the scales of justice on top. Inside the arch will be images of a magnolia blossom, a riverboat, a Civil War soldier and the castle that is a part of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ logo.

Today, officers wear black uniforms which many have com-plained are too hot during summer months.

Today, there are about 75 uniformed officers in the Vicksburg Police Department which has slots for 87. Moffett said they are accepting applications and that the next civil service exam has been scheduled for Nov. 6.

The new sedans cost $339,161 under state contract price and the two Dodge Ram pickups cost $33,504. About $150,000 was also needed for lights, sirens radios, insignia and other costs.

New vehicle logos cost $270 including installation.

Moffett said that he expects the department to get better performance from the new Impalas, including better gas mileage and lower maintenance costs. He said that the biggest difference between the Fords and the Impalas is that the Crown Victoria is a rear-wheel drive and the Impala is a front-wheel drive.

He said that despite the appearance, the Impala has nearly the same interior space as the Crown Victoria which looks bigger from the outside. The Impala also costs about $3,000 each less.

Moffett said that although they plan to someday replace all cars with the Impala that the timing will be based on recommendations from the city’s vehicle maintenance department based on age, mileage and repair costs.