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WATCH NOW: Porter County sheriff introduces the quiet future of police cars
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WATCH NOW: Porter County sheriff introduces the quiet future of police cars

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VALPARAISO — After state and local officials spent more than a half hour touting the significance of the Porter County Sheriff's Department's recent purchase of 11 new hybrid Ford Interceptor SUVs, the ignition key was turned on one of the vehicles.

The result was an anticlimactic low hum, which police say is exactly what all the hoopla is about.

Police often idle their vehicles and these new SUVs rely on a lithium-ion hybrid battery, which allows the gas engine to run only intermittently, officials said. The result will be 38% less fuel use among these 11 hybrid vehicles, saving 44,622 gallons of gasoline each year.

"Perfect match for us," Porter County Sheriff Dave Reynolds said during the Friday morning presentation.

Reynolds and others dismissed the image of sluggish hybrid vehicles.

"The performance in these cars is really remarkable," he said, predicting that this is the future of police cars.

While the county picked up the bulk of the cost for the vehicles — $37,500 each — it was assisted with $30,000 from the Indiana Office of Energy Development's Indiana Rural Energy Innovation grant program, officials said.

"South Shore Clean Cities was thrilled to assist the Porter County Sheriff's Department with this groundbreaking sustainable transportation project that helps improve air quality, save taxpayers dollars and support the local economy with locally purchased vehicles and clean, domestic, Hoosier homegrown fuels," said SSCC Executive Director Carl Lisek.

The vehicles are powered by E15 fuel, he said.

Reynolds said his department spent about $200,000 last year on fuel.

"A full fleet of hybrids will save almost $90,000 a year," he said.

The vehicles will provide better performance and efficiency than gasoline-powered engines without sacrificing performance, Reynolds said.

"In addition to the gas savings, the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions was important in making the change," he said.

Jennifer Richardson, executive director of the Indiana Office of Energy Development, said the idea behind the grant is to help rural areas "hammered" in recent times.

"We wanted to create something that would give back," she said.

Don Hadley, general manager of government and commercial sales at Lake Shore Motors, described the workings of the new hybrids.

"This is not a Prius," said Hadley, who serves as president of the Clean Cities board. "This vehicle's performance is no joke."

Gallery: Chicago Ford Assembly Plant tour

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.

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