Taste of Fear Leads to New Ford Police Interceptor Safety Aid

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There’s an old saying: necessity is the mother of invention. So is getting surrounded by 12 to 15 gang members in Compton, California. That abject fear is behind the available surveillance mode technology that may be the most important feature on the 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicle.


Available Surveillance Mode technology warns the cop behind the wheel when someone approaches the rear of the vehicle. Upon detection, the driver’s window automatically goes up and all doors lock.

Where did the idea come from? A Ford engineer feeling he was going to die because he was stupid enough to get out of a police cruiser on a ride along.

IMG_1354Randy Freiburger, Special Vehicle Engineering Supervisor at Ford, stepped up his commitment to keeping cops safe after experiencing first hand what it’s like to be a middle-age white guy, unarmed, in one of the worst neighborhoods in America.

He was with a female deputy when they rolled up on 15 gang members hanging around a house. The deputy’s cop instinct kicks in and she tells Freiburger to say put.

The deputy gets out, spots what she thinks is a weapon, and starts to frisk one of the gang members. Freiburger, feeling protective, gets out of the cruiser – thinking his presence might deter the gang members from doing anything.

Well, another gang member comes up behind the deputy, distracts her, and the guy with guns beats feet. So does the deputy in foot pursuit – and Freiburger now understands what cops go through. He’s alone on a Compton street. Backup shows up and Freiburger makes it back to Dearborn bullet hole free.

IMG_1325But it gets him thinking. “It gave me another perspective. It reinforced to me the need to protect their backs,” he said, choking up a little bit as he recalls the tale. Freiburger said this new technology, which incorporates the blind spot warning system and rear parking alerts, is just the first of four new safety technologies he is pioneering.

The other new aspects of the 2016 Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicle are a tad more mundane from a back story. It’s rear-crash capable up to 75 mph vs. government standards of 55 mph for passenger vehicles (and non-Interceptor police vehicles). For the first time, cops can unlock the rear gate of the utility vehicle from the inside. Normally it has to be unlocked with a key.

IMG_1331In addition to the available surveillance mode technology, a 180-degree high-definition camera is now standard. Low-beam headlights are LEDs while the high beams are now incandescent. It allows them to be used in the famous wig-wag pattern.

Ford won’t divulge fuel economy numbers yet but the Police Interceptor Utility is 5 percent more aerodynamic than the 2015 model, which was rated 16-mpg city and 21-mpg highway in the standard 3.7-liter V6 producing 304 horsepower and 279 lb.-ft. of torque. The available 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 makes 365 horsepower and 350 lb.-ft. of torque and is rated at 15-mpg city and 20-mpg highway.

IMG_1335It’s not a safety issue, but it’s is something most consumers would want on their cars. The new vehicle gets larger radio volume and tuning knobs. The steering wheel controls have also been tweaked for easier use. The steering wheel has also been thickened for better handling.

Keith Griffin

Keith Griffin

Keith Griffin is an automotive columnist for the Las Vegas Review Journal and CarGurus.com, as well as a reviewer for the Boston Globe, and - most importantly - dad to two great girls.