Red Bank PD getting rid of VW Passat's as patrol cars
The Red Bank Police Department will get rid of its VW Passat patrol cars and purchase American-made SUV's instead.
UPDATE: On Wednesday, US regulators announced Volkswagen will spend $1 billion dollars to settle claims regarding the 2015 emissions cheating scandal.
That $1 billion includes the money for VW to buy back some of the cars, or fix the affected models.
More than a year later, Red Bank Police Department is finally figuring out what will happen to its affected patrol cars.
"It looks like it's going to be the most effective and efficient thing for the city to go ahead and let Volkswagen buy back these vehicles from us," said Police Chief Tim Christol.
As part of VW's buy back program, Red Bank will get rid of seven Volkswagen patrol cars.
They'll use that money to replace the cars with new ones.
But this time, they're shopping elsewhere.
"They've lost that opportunity and we are going back to an American-made car that has been around a long time in police work," Chief Christol said.
The new fleet will be 2017 Ford Interceptor SUV's.
The VW deal will give the city almost enough money to buy all seven. They'll use about $45,000 from the city budget to pay for the rest.
Chief Tim Christol said in the end, the department will walk away from the emissions cheating scandal just fine.
"We remember that it's not our money it's their money that we're spending and so we need to consider that in everything we do," he said.
Chief Christol said Volkswagen still has a long way to go to make things right with its 11 million customers who owned an affected model.
"I think that Volkswagen is doing what they have to do to start earning the trust back, I think Volkswagen still has a long way to go to earn everyone's trust back," he said.
The department is still in the process of purchasing the new Ford SUV's so it will still be a while before the last Passat is taken off the road.
PREVIOUS STORY: The Red Bank Police Department is waiting for word on how the VW emissions scandal will impact a third of its fleet.
Chief Tim Christol tells Channel 3 the department owns seven Passat TDI vehicles that are used by officers on the road. The department selected the vehicles because of good gas mileage and performance.
"We were one of the first law enforcement agencies, that I know of in the country, to utilize these vehicles," said Police Chief Tim Christol.
Chief Christol says the department purchased its first Volkswagen patrol car in 2012 and has been buying updated models every year since.
He says the department has been saving money on fuel cost.
"The police cars we have are averaging about 11.5 - 12 miles to the gallon, which is not uncommon for the type of driving that we're doing. But the Passat is getting us about 33 - 34 miles to the gallon."
Officer Tracy Montgomery says he was a little skeptical when he was first assigned a Passat as a patrol car.
"When I first started driving the vehicle I was actually surprised about how good it would accelerate going after a speeder," Montgomery said.
But now it's his top choice over any other car in the department.
"I looked into buying one of these actually myself," Montgomery said.
The department has not been in contact with Volkswagen directly and is eagerly waiting for a solution before their next emissions testing in November.
If the fix hinders the car's performance -- it's possible Red Bank will stop buying the cars altogether.
But for now, Chief Christol says they will wait and see.
"Plus, until we have a little more faith back in the company," Chief Christol said, "It's something that we'll always weigh in the decision."
Christol says the department made a major investment by purchasing the seven vehicles. They are all still in service, he says the department can’t afford to take them off the road.