The Riverside Police Department is adding a new vehicle to its fleet, but you might never notice it — unless you happen to be caught driving drunk or committing a traffic violation by the officer behind the wheel of the new SUV.
In June, the Riverside Village Board voted 4-0 to approve spending up to $30,000 on a 2016 Ford Explorer Police Interceptor Utility Vehicle, which will look like a regular SUV, according to Police Chief Thomas Weitzel.
“It will look like a civilian car,” said Weitzel. “We won’t have the police hub caps on it. We’re not even going to order it black like a squad car, we’re going to order it looking like a civilian car.”
But when the officer goes to make a traffic stop, said Weitzel, it’ll be plenty noticeable.
“It has more lights than a Christmas tree,” Weitzel said.
The SUV is being purchased using money the police department receives for obtaining drunken-driving convictions in Cook County Circuit Court. The department receives between $100 and $500 for those convictions, based on whether anyone was injured in a crash or whether the offender has prior DUI convictions, Weitzel said.
As of June 1, the department had about $65,900 in its DUI account. That money can only be used to purchase and maintain vehicles or equipment used for DUI enforcement. The vehicle will be able to be used by the department for that purpose or for traffic enforcement purposes only, said Weitzel. It can’t be used for general police patrols.
Any expenses incurred outfitting the vehicle with lights and other police equipment and costs for maintaining the vehicle will be paid for out of the DUI fund.
The SUV is being purchased through Joe Rizza Ford, which will match the price negotiated by the state for its Suburban Purchasing Cooperative Contract. The vehicle has already been ordered, Weitzel said, and will be delivered Aug. 1.
It should be ready for DUI/traffic enforcement in late August, just in time for the department’s Labor Day intensive traffic enforcement detail.