New wheels for Riverhead emergency responders

07/25/2014 10:00 AM |
Mike Curtis, Riverhead Town's lead mechanic, with Officer Doug Geraci at the town's municipal garage, where Mr. Curtis spent 50 to 60 hours outfitting the department's new car for patrol use. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Mike Curtis, Riverhead Town’s lead mechanic, with Officer Doug Geraci at the town’s municipal garage, where Mr. Curtis spent 50 to 60 hours outfitting the department’s new car for patrol use. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

Don’t be surprised if you see a sleek, dark blue Riverhead police car or ambulance SUV drive by with its lights flashing: it’s just the town emergency services’ newest rides.

The Riverhead Police Department’s new squad car is a Ford Police Interceptor, the latest police car model available since Ford discontinued the Crown Victoria in 2011. 

“If you wanted to continue with the Ford, this was the option,” said police Captain Richard Smith.

The new police Interceptors are based on the Ford Taurus and, despite their smaller V6 engines, have more horsepower than the Crown Vic. They also have all-wheel drive, which will make it easier for cops to patrol on snowy roads, Capt. Smith said.

“In last year’s snowstorm, Suffolk County [police] were very happy with how the car handles,” he said, noting that the county police have already begun purchasing the new model.

Capt. Smith said the town needed to start buying the new cars after old Crown Vics became difficult to find and aging cars needed to be replaced.

Riverhead Town’s lead mechanic Mike Curtis spent about 50 to 60 hours outfitting the new Interceptor, hooking up the lights and installing the necessary equipment.

“It’s a nice new addition to the police force,” said officer Doug Geraci.

As for the paint job, Capt. Smith said he and Police Chief David Hegermiller agreed to bring back the dark blue and white colors after an extended hiatus.

“We didn’t even talk on it,” he said. “We both thought about doing the same thing.”

Capt. Smith said the town has purchased two other new Interceptors that will be put into service as needed.

The Riverhead Volunteer Ambulance Corps also has a new vehicle of its own: a new Chevy Tahoe to replace the ambulance chief’s current SUV.

“I’m really excited for it to get on the road,” said RVAC Chief Joseph Oliver.

Chief Oliver’s new vehicle was purchased through an agreement with the town. In exchange for the Tahoe, RVAC will donate the old SUV back to the town, so it can be reassigned to another town department.

“We went for the Tahoe based on the recommendation of the town garage,” he said. “They said that the Chevy, contrary to popular belief, is a lot more reliable than the Ford.”

The Tahoe comes with “a ton of new safety features,” Chief Oliver said, like equipment to secure volunteer’s tools and keep them from flying around inside the vehicle in a crash.

The SUV also has more lights than the old chief’s vehicle and can better illuminate emergency scenes.

“I just push a button and the entire light bar on the front turns white,” Chief Oliver said. The SUV arrived two weeks ago and will be put into service soon.

A new Chevy Suburban is also on the way to replace a 2004 Chevy being used by the ambulance volunteers as a first responder’s vehicle.

psquire@timesreview.com