ASHVILLE - When the Ashville Police Department recently replaced one of its aging cruisers, officials decided it was time for a makeover as well.
The 2015 Ford Explorer purchased by the department in October now sports a new graphic design that still reflects the village's image but steers away from a popular misconception, according to Chief Doug Clark.
"Everyone always thought we bought old Columbus Police cruisers because the design was so similar," Clark said. "We never bought Columbus cars, we always bought new ones, and we figured it was about time to get away from that Columbus look."
The new design, provided by Affordable Graphics in Obetz, gives a fresh look for the department while keeping with the familiar red, white and blue associated with Ashville and its annual 4th of July festival, Clark said.
The Explorer is one of five vehicles currently in the Ashville fleet, which also includes three Crown Victorias and a 2002 Yukon Denali put into service after it was forfeited in a local drug case. Clark said the Denali is used primarily for special detail like court appearances, sporting events and parades.
Clark said the new Explorer cost about $24,000 from the general fund, and the only extra equipment needed besides the detailing was an updated light bar and a second divider for the back seat cage.
"All the rest came out of the old car," Clark said.
Eventually all of Ashville's cruisers will be upgraded to Ford Explorers since Crown Victorias are no longer in production, he said, and equipment from the current vehicles fits well and can be easily transferred to an Explorer.
Clark said the department tries to replace one car per year so vehicles are on a constant rotation with the oldest vehicle no more than four or five years old. Clark said two of the department's current vehicles are running with more than 300,000 engine hours and a third has more than 400,000 engine hours.
"You're not looking at miles driven but actual engine hours," Clark said. "And as many railroad crossings as we have in town, our cruisers on patrol are probably going over the tracks 30 times a day or more, and that's hard on the front ends."
Since the new Explorer was purchased in October as part of last year's budget, Clark said they are waiting until the sale of 2016 models opens up to order another replacement this year.