"We kept hearing citizens complaining that you don't ever see the police around," said Davis, chief of the township's 13-member police force. "That makes people feel insecure, and it may make potential criminals feel a little too secure."
Residents often complained about speeding motorists on secondary roads during rush hour, Township Council President Nicholas Lippincott said. ''People would come to council meetings saying that they wanted police cars in their neighborhood to stop speeders. We dispersed the cars pretty well in the neighborhoods, but the old cars were pretty nondescript. They just looked like blue Chevies," he said.
"We had been wanting to change colors and upgrade some of our equipment for several years now, so we figured this is the year to make the change."
Last month, the Police Department purchased two white 1988 Caprices for $10,800 each from the state police's department of general services. Last week, $8,000 was spent to outfit the cars with new lighting, radio equipment, reflective tape and Upper Providence crests on their sides.
"Now, these cars are not your average family sedans," Davis said.
Manufactured by Chevrolet, the cars carry features not available on civilian cars. The features include 350-horsepower engines to provide a lot of power for high-speed pursuits, heavy-duty alternators to keep up with the constant radio and light use, and engine and transmission coolers to prevent the cars from overheating while they run nearly 24 hours a day, Davis said.
"We replace these cars every 18 months," Davis said. "After 70,000 miles, the transmission and engine start giving out."
Retired patrol cars are used as backup vehicles for several years and are then repainted and turned into unmarked vehicles for the township detective, Davis explained. After a year or two as detective cars, the cars are usually given to the Rose Tree Fire Company, where they become the fire chief's car.
Patrol cars in the township averaged 117,456 miles last year and will probably put in more miles this year because of the recent increase in police officers, Davis said.
"You won't miss these cars in a crowd of traffic," Davis said, showing off one of the new cars.
"If somebody was sitting in a parking lot contemplating holding up our Wawa and he saw a patrol car this visible, he'd probably change his mind. A policeman never knows how much crime he deters while he's on patrol," he said.