The Rice University Police Department recently acquired new 2014 Chevrolet Tahoes for their patrol fleet. The new vehicles feature updated and enhanced exterior graphics, as well as a larger appearance and other exterior modifications.

The funds for the new patrol Tahoes came from the university’s fiscal year 2014 operations budget. Chief of Police Johnny Whitehead said the police department requested funding for the new vehicles because of high mileage and maintenance of the old patrol vehicles.

“The fleet is pretty aged,” Whitehead said. “We were spending so much on maintenance. When the cars are in the shop, you can’t put them out in patrol.” 

  According to Whitehead, RUPD had several vehicles with high mileage — between 80,000 to 90,000 miles.

“The maintenance costs were [also] very high,” Whitehead said. 

Whitehead said each new Tahoe cost around $18,000. However, the police equipment that had to be added to the vehicles, including emergency lights, sirens and in-car camera and computer systems, cost an additional $19,000 per vehicle, making the total cost of each vehicle $37,000.

According to Whitehead, the choice of Chevrolet Tahoes was based partly on Michigan state’s police department, which annually conducts precision driving tests on police vehicles, including the Tahoe. When testing, they look at braking distance, fuel economy, ergonomics, dynamics and comfort level for the officer. 

“The Tahoe consistently rates well in the Michigan state police testing,” Whitehead said. “We checked with other police departments, and those that have the Tahoe are very pleased with it. [Also,] the cost is lower than a lot of other options out there.”

Whitehead said RUPD has been happy with the new Tahoes and the replacement of some of their patrol fleet. The update of the patrol vehicles was a priority for the police department this year, according to Whitehead.

“We [also] like the Tahoe because it’s high [off the ground] and we get a lot of flooding on campus, so we are able to continue to patrol and respond to emergencies at those times,” Whitehead said. “We are in pretty good shape. All of our patrol vehicles have been the priority. All of the patrol vehicles are now up to date.”