New wheels for DPS

Photo by Rebecca Rebholz / rebecca.rebholz@mu.edu

While Marquette’s Department of Public Safety continues to combat crime around campus, it is making one change: transitioning to new squad cars.

DPS had primarily been driving the Ford Crown Victoria. However, Ford discontinued the car in the U.S. and Canada for the 2012 model year. Now DPS is making a transition to the Ford Taurus.

DPS has been trying to make the switch gradual by getting a few cars at a time instead of replacing the old ones all at once.

“We have quite a few squads so it is not something we can just transition from one model to the next,” DPS Capt. Russell Shaw said. “It is a transition that has slowly worked into our fleet.”

Shaw said getting new squad cars is very important and not completely uncommon because the cars get such high mileage, often being driven for around 100,000 miles and for about five years.

“Those are all mostly city miles and a lot of right turns,” Shaw said. “Putting 100,000 miles on a squad (car) when they are running sometimes 24 hours a day is a lot of rough mileage.”

As the cars got older, Marquette’s administration stepped in and started providing new ones for the officers.

“I think that goes back to the support we receive from the administration,” Shaw said. “They give us great tools and the opportunity to get some great equipment. Cars certainly are one of the most important things we need.”

DPS has been receiving positive responses from the officers about the new Tauruses so far.

“They handle a little better than the old Crown Vics,” Sgt. Jill Weisensel said. “They are more maneuverable. It is probably a much more practical car for us in terms of gas mileage and maneuverability.”

Patrollers driving around campus usually are driving anywhere from eight to 10 hours and average 50 to 60 miles a night, not just on streets but through alleys as well.

“On south campus especially, we don’t just patrol the streets, we patrol the alleys,” Weisensel said. “It is hard trying to get that big boat of a car through there.”

Erica Buchanan, a freshman in the College of Health Sciences, said she loves the trendy look of the squad cars around campus.

“Since I am a freshman, I never knew those cars were not there the whole time,” Buchanan said. “I just assumed DPS had the coolest cars.”

Marquette has usually gotten the squad cars from Ford, and DPS decided to continue that trend for a reason.

“We have always been very happy with Ford, so we stayed with them,” Shaw said. “We have always felt they are really a great-looking car. Actually, we are probably one of the first departments that have the new Ford Taurus.”

Shaw said it is not all about logistics. Sometimes DPS has to keep up with trends and win style points as well.

“It is an image thing, too,” he said. “We want our squads to look good.”

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