Chicago Police Department to buy 500 police cars from South Side Ford plant

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Mayor Rahm Emanuel talks to some Ford workers as they eat lunch after announcing that the City of Chicago will be buying 100 new police vehicles from Ford. he made the announcement at the Ford Chicago Assembly Plant 12600 s Torrence. Friday, February 24, 2012. | Brian Jackson~Sun-Times

The Chicago Police Department will purchase 500 Ford Interceptor sedans and SUV’s over the next five years built at a South Side plant that recently added a third shift and 1,200 jobs, Mayor Rahm Emanuel said Friday.

“We not only have the cars built here in Chicago, designed here in Chicago. We’re gonna put our money where our mouth is. We’re gonna order the cars here from this plant,” Emanuel told a news conference at the Ford assembly plant at 12600 S. Torrence.

The mayor noted that production of the Interceptor – designed to replace the old Crown Victoria as a police staple – was “consolidated from Canada” at the Torrence Avenue plant. That accounted for 230 of the 1,200 new jobs.

“It will now be on our streets protecting our residents, protecting our Police Department. This is a win for the taxpayers, a win for the workers, a win for the community on the South Side of Chicago that produces it,” he said.

The five-year, $15 million contract is the product of a reverse auction helped along by the “two percent bonus” the Emanuel administration is now awarding to Chicago businesses.

The results are a boon to Ford and the $200 million it has pledged to invest in the Torrence Avenue plant. But, the mayor insisted that it’s not part of any quid-pro-quo for the 1,200 jobs Ford added last fall after striking a deal with the United Auto Workers (UAW) union.

“They’ve got a big company worldwide. They didn’t add a third-shift because I’m gonna order on the first day 100 police cars. We’re doing it because it is dollars and cents. And I’m proud that the additional benefit is, it’s made here,” the mayor said.

It will be up to Police Supt. Garry McCarthy to determine the precise mix of sedans and SUV’s.

But, the mayor made it clear that all of the SUV’s would be equipped with four-wheel drive.

“Last year, some of us during the blizzard, had the unique experience of pushing out a [Chevrolet] Tahoe because it was ordered with only two-wheel drive. Some of us remember that experience well – and I [had] the shoulder [ache] to show for it,” Emanuel said.

Is the mayor saying it was foolish for the city to purchase the SUV’s favored by former-Police Supt. Jody Weis without four-wheel drive?

“That’s your word. I would just say that if you’re in Chicago – while we have had a mild winter – buying an SUV that is two-wheel has a certain intellectual construct. … And I’m glad we’re buying one that has all-wheel because it’s made for all seasons,” he said.

Kathleen Strand, a spokeswoman for the Office and Budget and Management and the mayor’s economic council, later conceded that an “all-wheel drive pursuit grade vehicle did not exist until the Interceptor. … It’s brand new technology.”

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