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US:Dispute freezes Ford sales, so Arkansas police order Chevys

Dispute freezes Ford sales, so Arkansas police order Chevys

Associated Press

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - A legal dispute over how Ford Motor Co. equips its Crown Victoria Police Interceptors has driven Arkansas State Police to order 41 patrol cars from a competitor, General Motors Corp.

Col. Steve Dozier, state police commander, said Tuesday he had directed his agency to purchase 41 Chevrolet Impala police cruisers this week.

Dozier said he couldn't wait any longer for an end to the legal dispute between Attorney General Mike Beebe and Ford Motor Co. over equipment on the company's police models.

State police spokesman Bill Sadler said the cars are being ordered from Bale Chevrolet in Little Rock for $16,452.69 each. Dozier said the cars are needed because the state police will hire about 40 new troopers soon.

The state police commander said he hopes the legal dispute ends soon so he again can buy Ford police cruisers. His agency had 86 Crown Victoria Police Interceptors on order with Ford when Ford decided in December not to sell to police agencies in Arkansas because of the investigation initiated by Beebe.

Beebe says his office found evidence that Ford has falsely advertised its police car as a heavy-duty vehicle, compared with the regular Crown Victoria. The attorney general raised questions about the frame, wheels, brakes and suspension of the cars.

Ford denies the allegations.

The Crown Victoria Police Interceptors are larger and heavier than the Chevrolet Impalas, and many law enforcement agencies prefer the Fords. Some police agencies in Arkansas have signed waivers presented by Ford, saying they won't sue the automaker with claims "connected with the advertising or sale" of the vehicles.

Dozier has declined to sign any waiver, however, saying he was worried that it could exempt Ford from responsibility on safety issues.

Those signing a waiver in Arkansas, according to Ford, include the cities of Corning, Bryant, Marion, Clarksville, Monticello, Murfreesboro and Heber Springs, and Independence, Ashley, Jefferson, Union, Jackson and Sharp counties.

Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Beebe, said Dozier's decision to buy the Chevrolets wasn't a surprise, given "Ford's unprecedented move of preventing law enforcement officers from getting their vehicles."

Doug Lampe, a lawyer handling the Arkansas dispute for Ford, said the "anti-business litigation environment" spawned by Beebe is to blame for the state police not being able to get Ford cars.

Beebe's office is inquiring into complaints that some Crown Victorias sold as Police Interceptor models were essentially the civilian version. Officials have said an examination of 2000 models showed that some of the police package features were present and others weren't.

Ford says all the advertised features are present in its Police Interceptor model, including a heavy-duty frame, heavier springs, shocks and front stabilizer bar, and an additional rear stabilizer. The model is also advertised as equipped with an engine oil cooler and a higher idle speed, which promotes greater coolant circulation speed for extended idling periods frequent in patrol vehicles.

DeCample said in February that the decision by some cities and counties to sign the Ford waivers wasn't affecting the investigation by Beebe's office.

"We're still investigating. We're still collecting information from Ford," DeCample said.

My first car was a 67 Mustang Coupe, 2nd one was a 67 Cougar XR-7, 3rd one was a 66 Mustang Coupe. Why did I get rid of these cars for ? I know why, because I'm stupid, stupid, stupid.

My next Ford.....
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