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Originally published Sunday, July 29, 2012 at 8:22 PM

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State troopers lament as Crown Vics coast into retirement

Ford's Crown Victorias first entered service 20 years ago and rapidly became the mainstay of law-enforcement agencies across the country.

Yakima Herald-Republic

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Officially they are known as Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors. To state troopers, however, they are affectionately known simply as "Crown Vics."

With Ford no longer making the model, the Washington State Patrol recently assigned the last of the big V-8s to a trooper in Spokane. So beloved is the car by troopers that a ceremony was held to mark the occasion.

"The Crown Vic's been a workhorse," said Jim Keightley, a former Patrol lieutenant now a captain with the police department in Ellensburg. "This generation of troopers, that's all they know."

Crown Vics first entered service 20 years ago and rapidly became the mainstay of law-enforcement agencies across the country.

With their V8 engines, rear-wheel drive and beefed-up suspensions, the Crown Vic may have looked like your granddaddy's sedate sedan, but troopers loved them anyway.

Lt. Terry Liebrecht, who works out of Union Gap, explained why.

"It's a very versatile car," he said. "It's big but not too big, responsive, and it's roomy enough to carry all the equipment troopers need to do their job. ... That's their office space."

Although troopers tend to become attached to their cars, not all makes and models inspire the same level of love associated with Crown Vics.

Asked to name his least favorite machine, Keightley cited the 1981 Dodge Diplomat, which also just happened to be his first ride fresh from the academy.

Ditto for Liebrecht, although technically his Diplomat was an '84. By the time he got it, it was 3 years old (and that's old in police-car years).

"It was not a good police car, no," he said, adding diplomatically: "Let's just say it was, um ... tired."

Despite having a reputation on the stolid side of solid, Crown Vics were well regarded for durability and reliability. The Patrol might well have kept buying them forever had Ford not ceased production last year. The company stopped making them for the commercial market in 2008.

Meanwhile, the Patrol's new car is a police version of the Chevrolet Caprice, which will start hitting the road later this year, whenever a Crown Vic is retired.

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