Ask a Trooper: Dodge Charger
Question: I know that numerous police agencies have Dodge Chargers. Do you know if the State Patrol uses one, too, or do they use something else for similar purposes?
Answer: For us, it is a specialty vehicle and not our typical fleet/patrol vehicle. The Charger “program” is run statewide. Almost every State Patrol district in the state currently has one, except Rochester and Thief River Falls; however, both of those districts have plans to acquire a Charger or similar unmarked vehicle in the near future.
Each district may operate its Charger program a little bit differently. For example, the Brainerd District’s charger arrived in 2010. Currently, that vehicle is black in color, unmarked, and has the 5.8 liter V8 engine. The district troopers were able to pick the color they preferred. There were about five different colors to choose from. This vehicle rotates throughout the district, “serving time” in every station.
The emphasis for the vehicle was to be unmarked, work the different stations and be able to locate unbelted motorists. The areas of emphasis were around schools and areas where young drivers congregated. As of late, the vehicles have been used quite a bit to find violators who are texting or using a mobile device while driving. As one supervisor notes, the goal of the Charger program is to hide in plain sight to correct driver behavior that would not occur around a marked squad. Also, the Charger program allows every trooper an opportunity to drive an unmarked vehicle during their career, which has not always been the case in the past.
Troopers are responsible for keeping track of their daily activity on a log sheet. All of the statistics and reports surrounding the use of it are reported quarterly to the State Patrol fleet lieutenant in St. Paul.
It is possible that someday, each district could get an unmarked cross-over type vehicle. One thing about the Charger that should be noted is that it is a very trustworthy car. Looking at the Brainerd District Charger as an example again, the only mechanical issues they needed to deal with have been preventative maintenance items.
If you have any questions for future columns concerning motor vehicle traffic in Minnesota, please send your questions to: “ASK A TROOPER” c/o Sgt. Curt S. Mowers, Minnesota State Patrol, 7694 Industrial Park Road, Suite 2 Baxter, MN 56425 or email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org with Ask a Trooper in the subject line. Questions are edited.