The flat screen blinks to life with a familiar image of Bo and Luke speeding down a Hazzard County back road, spewing gravel and leaving a rooster tail of dust. To a familiar tune of Waylon Jennings crooning, “It’s the good old boys…,” we settle back to watch as the Duke boys (at the wheel of the “General Lee”) take us along for their latest misadventure. But, hold on, something is different this time…the red and blue lights are actually gaining on the duo. Could they finally have met their match with Hazzard County’s finest?
And, what the hell is Rosco driving? As their pursuer gains on them, the boys can’t believe their eyes as they see that Rosco has traded his tired old cruiser for a pickup truck! And, mind you, not just any pickup, either; it’s the best-selling commercial truck for over a quarter of a century – a Ford F-150!
Not Pursuit Rated
That story won’t be too far-fetched if the “Blue Oval” folks from Dearborn have their way. Ford has announced the exciting new 2013 F-150 will be available in a cop rated Special Service Vehicle (SSV) version. Please note that this is NOT a pursuit rated vehicle, but a heavy-duty vehicle suited for emergency services.
Ford’s official press release of June 11, 2012, announced the new option. “Our fleet customers have been asking us to create this option for our FSeries trucks,” said Ford Government Sales Manager Tony Gratson. “We are confident the current  and updated 2013 F-150s equipped with the SSV Package will be of particular interest to our government customers with rugged jobs, such as law enforcement, fire fighting and national and state park patrols.”
Of course, what Ford did not say is that this may be a response to similarly equipped packages announced about this time last year by the folks at Ram® Trucks. Regardless of the reasoning, it is great news for law enforcement agencies needing a tough truck package. Of course, the best news of all is that there is no charge for this package! That almost seems impossible in this age of everything costing more, but it’s true. Ford has managed to put this package together by eliminating other items not needed for this type of service. Following, you’ll discover what constitutes the F-150 SSV Package.
Putting the Pieces Together
First, it’s important to note that the SSV option is available in both the SuperCab and SuperCrew F-150 models and in 2WD or 4WD versions. But, wait, there’s more. The trucks are available with two engine choices, the venerable 5.0L DOHC V- 8, developing 360 hp or the new 3.5L Ti-VCT EcoBoost® V-6 with twin turbos which actually pumps out five horsepower more than the V-8 at 365 hp and boasts of a better miles per gallon than the V-8, too. The V-6 is EPA rated at 21 mpg highway and a best in class 15 mpg city (in the 2WD version); whereas, the V-8 is rated at 19 mpg highway and 14 mpg city. A similar EcoBoost V-6 is rapidly becoming the optional engine of choice for departments ordering Ford’s new Interceptors, the sedan and SUV-based units. Both engines are computer limited to a top speed of 98 mph. (Remember, Ford stresses that these are not pursuit vehicles!)
Both SSV engines are mated to Ford’s new electronically operated six-speed automatic overdrive transmission which provides the right gear for the right situation. It is controlled by a column mounted shift lever.
To develop the SSV package, Ford took the popular XL series work truck and began deleting features not needed, such as the running boards. They modified the existing 40/20/40 bench seat by eliminating the center (20) section, and then covered the whole thing in rugged cloth with recessed areas to clear an officer’s sidearm and handheld radio. The deleted center section facilitates easy installation of aftermarket consoles and computer mounts. Carpeting has been replaced with durable rubber mats, but carpets do remain an option. The rear seat is three across seating in a 40/ 20/40 configuration, covered in prisoner ready vinyl.
There is ample room in either cab design for the latest prisoner partitions. The larger SuperCrew version enlarges the rear compartment, but reduces the bed by a foot (5.5 feet) from the SuperCab’s 6.5 foot bed.
Included in the SSV package is a high capacity, 220 amp alternator and the plethora of extra fluid coolers associated with severe service. The SSV in 4×4 features skid plates which protect the front differential, transfer case and gas tank. Both versions ride on strong 17 inch steel wheels with cop car, dog dish caps and on-road/off-road rubber.
The Aftermarket Awaits
As we speak, law enforcement equipment manufacturers are tooling up to provide accessories for the much anticipated SSV Ford pickups. Some manufacturers, such as Jotto Desk, Setina and Pro-gard, were already building components for commercial F-150 applications, such as consoles and computer mounts. Jotto Desk has supply consoles, computer mounts, gun mounts and prisoner partitions available for the SSVs. However, there’s another Jotto truck accessory which interests me for use in the SSV Fords and I think it will interest consumers as well. It is their patented Jotto Cargo Slide. This is a heavy-duty aluminum sliding tray for pickup beds. It is available for both of the SSV bed sizes (5.5 feet and 6.5 feet), as well as longer sizes, too. They are available in weight capacities ranging from 800 lbs. to 2000 lbs. and they will support that weight at FULL extension (70% of the bed’s length). These slides would expand the versatility of Ford’s (and others) severe duty pickups exponentially. Portable scales and canine compartments are just two of the myriad of types of cop stuff which could be hauled. The addition of a fiberglass shell would not only insure the bed contents would be safe from the elements, but would provide a canvass for expanded department graphics.
The Philadelphia Police Department allows officers to transport critically injured persons (shooting and stabbing victims) in their assigned vehicles and have been doing so for some 20 years. Called “scoop and runs,” this practice is utilized when ambulances are scarce and before trained medical personnel arrive. The officers are minimally trained for the transport and are required to obtain the victim’s consent first. When I started my law enforcement career, our city fire department operated a number of big block Chevy station wagons and did the same thing – they strapped victims on gurneys, tied the gurneys down and blasted off into the night. No time- consuming stabilizing of the victim or getting vitals and a history…just grab and run. We always figured if the victims survived the ride, they could survive anything! Philadelphia’s policy is seldom seen in other American cities today, of course, but they (Philadelphia) should at least buy vehicles up to the challenge. Shrinking cruisers and SUVs just aren’t going to cut it, but a Ford SSV with an insulated shell and Jotto Cargo Slide would work quite well. Even the lightest capacity slide would support two 250 pound victims on gurneys at full extension!
Folks, the future of police vehicles is here and you, as consumers, have the greatest selection of vehicles ever offered! Be it the traditional four- door V-8, ground pounding RWD sedans from Chevy and Dodge; or the FWD six pack Fords with turbos; or small and large SUVs from all of the “Big Three,” they’re all out there. Now, to those choices, add the special duty pickups from Ford and Ram and there’s got to be something for every possible law enforcement application. And, I didn’t even mention the two and three wheel solos. Obviously, the choice of Ford trucks should be a no- brainer for Ford loyal departments which already field Ford Interceptors, but, undoubtedly, they will be considered by others as well.
According to my DMV, pickup trucks account for ten percent of the registered vehicles in my state. I recently participated in a memorial convoy for a chief of police killed in a traffic accident and among the 300 (or so) emergency vehicles participating were a number of law enforcement pickup trucks. I didn’t count them, but I’d guess they made up about ten percent of the vehicles assembled. So, they are out there in service already – be it in the mountains of Colorado, Wyoming or Montana or transporting Fish & Game officers to a favorite fishing hole, or patrolling dusty county back roads in Kansas and Oklahoma, the trucks are already out there protecting and serving every day and the new Blue Ovals will be a welcome addition.
About the Author: James G. Post always appreciates your comments and encourages your ideas about future topics. He can be reached at 5922 S. Primrose Rd., Lowell, AR 72745-9379 or via E-mail at email@example.com.