TAMPA - In the world of law enforcement, it has been the reigning king of the streets for more than a decade. Chances are you know the Ford Crown Victoria simply by its headlights.
"We're in these cars for eleven-and-a-half hours a day or more, so this is our office," says Tampa Police Corporal Shane Gadori.
For Gadori and the rest of TPD, that office has been and looked the same for 15 years. "I've never known anything other than a Crown Victoria," says Gadori.
Law enforcement calls them the "Crown Vic," but Ford now calls them "discontinued." Now there is a new wave of hi-tech crime fighting vehicles. Enter the Ford Interceptor, the Chevy Caprice, and the Dodge Charger.
As Tampa Police begin to phase out the Crown Vic, they had to test all three over the course of several months. The testing was on the streets and while officers were on their normal everyday shifts. The decision wasn't easy.
The first two concerns were safety and performance, but aesthetics were also important.
TPD got their hands on two of each car as five officers test drove all of them for two weeks at a time.
"Getting behind one of these, it's completely different. They handle a lot better. They have a lower center of gravity. It's just like a new car and a new way to drive," says Captain Lee Bercaw.
Bercaw says officers like Corporal Gadori filled out a lengthy survey after their two-week test drives. Every little thing was detailed.
Bercaw said that when all the cars were driven and the surveys added up, the three choices were within fractions of a point from the top spot.
But in the end, it was the Dodge Charger that won out.
They weighed performance, speed, cost, gas mileage, and more importantly crash safety. All factors Bercaw says is keeping officers and the community safer.
You can expect to see the new TPD Dodge Charger hitting the streets soon. It's the same car the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office and the Florida Highway Patrol has been using for two years.
And TPD says the best part is it happens to be the least expensive.