Police in star-studded Aspen are trading up to Volvo SUVs

April 24, 2005|By DENVER POST

Just about everything in Aspen, Colo., is a cut above average, so it follows that Aspen's finest should patrol the town's star-studded streets in a ride classier than the usual Ford Crown Victoria police cruisers.

Since the 1970s, the 27-officer Aspen Police Department has driven a fleet of Saab sedans. But soon the department plans to trade up to Volvo SUVs, a move echoing nearby Vail, where the Swedish-made Volvo has become the official town vehicle.

Aspen Mayor Helen Klanderud said the higher-end police vehicles aren't really about maintaining an upscale image, but rather are an effort to be at the head of the pack environmentally.

"It's really more environmental image than luxury image," said Klanderud, noting that the Volvo SUVs produce low emissions, have good crash-test ratings and get about 20 miles per gallon.

Before turning to the Volvos, Aspen police considered switching to gas-electric hybrid vehicles but learned these evolving vehicles might not be up to the task of stop-and-start town driving and powering all the flashing lights and extra electronic gadgets required in police work.

All the gadgets also necessitated moving into larger vehicles from the more compact Saabs, said the assistant Aspen police chief, Richard Pryor. The Volvo XC90s are considered midsize SUVs that can accommodate computers, weapons and first-aid supplies, and they have room for several scofflaws.

In Vail, Volvo has become the official sponsor for the Vail Valley Foundation and is replacing Vail Resorts' fleet of BMWs. Some town officials will be cruising in Volvos, and negotiations are under way to replace the police department's Ford Explorers with Volvos.

"We're thrilled to have Volvos. It's a luxury the foundation hasn't had," said foundation vice president John Dakin.

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