0200 hours, 15 minutes to end of watch, and the radio blares, “4A15, be advised shots heard in the area of Broadway and Griffin.” While it’s common to get a radio call like that, it’s not so common to hear a patrol unit broadcast this, so we knew it was real. A few seconds later, “4A15 show us following an ADW suspect vehicle, let me get a back up, airship, and a supervisor.” We immediately knew we were not going home on time, shit was just getting started.

Shortly after, the unit following the suspect vehicle broadcasted “we’re in pursuit!”

We were already on our way to back them but had not reached them when they began pursuing. The broadcast location was not very accurate either, the officer was a probationer on his first pursuit as primary and only broadcasting the streets they were passing, not the street they were traveling. The pursuit went outside the city, all we knew was there were multiple suspects in a silver SUV and they were going eastbound. Then a unit near the scene of the original shooting confirmed the worst. A man had been shot and lay dead, slumped over the steering wheel of his girlfriend’s car, with a bullet hole in the back of his head.

Now we knew 4A15 was in pursuit of multiple murder suspects, and from the broadcast, we could tell it was a dynamic pursuit, taking multiple twists and turns, and several times almost losing the vehicle.

We eventually got on the freeway. We knew we had to catch up to 4A15 since they were leaving the city and were alone. But several of us were in Crown Victorias. We were traveling at 127 mph, the maximum speed the cars would go. California Highway Patrol responded to back 4A15, they were in Explorers, probably with the EcoBoost package. They responded from behind us.

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In our rear view mirror we could see their flashing lights approaching us. Then they zoomed past us. In our Crown Vics we couldn’t go any faster, even with the pedal against the floor board. Yet, CHP zoomed past us mounted in Explorers.

This is why I will never choose a Crown Victoria when I have to opportunity to drive a Charger or an Explorer. I’ve been in three pursuits as the primary unit in a Crown Vic, luckily we never had to go on the freeway.

This Dodge Charger has a 3.6-liter V6 engine with an 5-speed automatic transmission and rear-wheel drive with 292 horsepower. Its estimated acceleration speed is 0-60 mph in 7.8 seconds. It has a top speed of 141 mph (estimated) and weighs 4000 lbs, I estimate 100 lbs. more with the computer and camera equipment and 600 lbs. more with two cops, their shotguns, rifles, riot gear, and other police equimpent.

The handling is great. You don’t sway around and overload the suspension like on the crown vics and you sit low, so you don’t feel like you are piloting a passenger airplane once you hit triple digit speeds. While the Explorer has about 20 more horsepower, the Charger also weighs about 700 lbs less.

If you are into fast cars, this is the best police car to date. Like most fast cars, this isn’t the most comfortable. The soccer mom Explorer takes the comfort award, while the Charger has an awkward trunk space and a crowded interior (when compared to other police cars).
The Crown Vic is also more comfortable, but you do sit lower and continually exiting and entering a vehicle is easier in an Explorer.

However, comfort isn’t a priority for those chasing after criminals. With smaller interior and such great speed and performance in the Charger, I feel like I’m in a fighter jet. Yet, the space it offers, including the trunk space, is plenty. Having a muscle car for patrol is not only American AF, it’s also a great perk! I can’t think of any other government jobs that pay you to cruise around in a hotrod.

Unfortunately, out of approximately 10 pursuits I have been in, not one was I ever in a Charger. However, I wish I had been in one every single time. While all the performance specs are impressive compared to the old V8 Crown Vics, all civilian cars have gotten better too.

The standard 4 door commuter sedan, like a Honda Accord for example, can accelerate from 0-60 mph in only 7.5 seconds! That’s .3 faster than the Charger and it has 110 horsepower less. This is possibly due to the fact that cars like these also weigh 1,000 lbs. less. Additionally, Suspect vehicles tend to be driven by lanky meth heads whose staple diet consists of Hot Cheetos. Compare that to a Charger with me in it, who weighs 230 lbs. with gear on, plus all my other gear, and then multiply by 2 for my partner (approximately 500 lbs total).

With the typical suspect vehicle weighing close to a third less than a police car, I prefer to have all the specs I can get, therefore I prefer the Charger over any other police vehicle available. Nevertheless it’s important to know that it’s not enough to have a fast car. What keeps us in pursuit is not just 0-60 speed, but skills. The ultimate equalizer in a pursuit is a car crash.

Happens often and in my experience, usually only the suspects crash. In the murder suspect pursuit, the primary unit was in a Ford Explorer, which is why they were able to keep up. The suspects were in a 2015 KIA Sorento… a sorority girl car.

The pursuit ended because the KIA ran out of gas.

But to all of those upset this article has not said anything nice about the Crown Victoria, know that we all reached the termination of the pursuit. The only Dodge Charger in the pursuit broke down due to transmission failure. 4A63 never made it to the end and had to be towed from the pursuit route on the same tow truck as the suspect vehicle.