My night started at the police station, but I wasn’t in trouble. I was meeting with my friend, Officer Kiel Rushton, to sign a stack of waivers so I could do a ride-along in a 2017 Dodge Charger Pursuit. This particular one was an AWD version with the 370-horsepower 5.7 HEMI® V8 engine. In addition to getting a feel for what happens during an officer’s five-hour shift, I wanted to see how the Dodge Charger Pursuit helps police officers perform their duties.
Before we had a chance to go through the instructions, the first call came in and we were scrambling to the cruiser. While en route to the call, I was getting the crash course on the ride-along etiquette. First up: the backup radio’s location and how to use it in an emergency. Thankfully, during my five-hour ride, the radio stayed right where it was. After the first call was completed, we were able to chat a bit more about procedures and what’s allowed and not allowed. Being new to ride-alongs, I was taking it all in.
The big question I wanted to know right off the bat: Why the Charger? The police cruiser market is shifting just like the normal market is shifting – to SUVs. So what makes them want the Charger over the SUVs that are available to them? If you’re reading this on DodgeGarage.com, then you already know why. It’s the performance of the 5.7 HEMI engine that gets them to the calls quickly and reliably, the handling to do it safely and the AWD to get them through the nastiest winter storms Minnesota can throw at them, even when the Minnesota Department of Transportation closes the highways.
When I pressed a bit more about why Dodge, the answer surprised me. As civilian drivers, we know the answer to this one, as well. It’s the creature comforts. The features we take for granted like Bluetooth®, a backup camera and a kicking stock stereo might not seem like much, but they’re standard on the Pursuit model, and they help take the Charger Pursuit from a utilitarian vehicle to something a police officer can turn into an almost comfortable rolling office.
One of the cool options for the Pursuit models is something Dodge calls the “Officer Protection Package”. It uses the backup camera and rear parking sensors to detect motion behind the cruiser. When motion is detected, audible signals chime and lights flash, and the car then rolls up the windows – innovative tech designed with officer safety in mind.
We continued our night responding to calls, and correcting bad behavior (speeders and light-runners). I decided to poll the followers of my Instagram account with a quick A.M.A. (Ask Me Anything) to see if there were burning questions that had to be answered. Most of them revolved around what engine the cruiser had and the fastest speed Office Rushton had ever reached in the car. The answer to the second question brought a chuckle to the officer and a very diplomatic response. The Pursuits are not electronically limited like most vehicles featuring the 5.7L HEMI engine, but a direct answer wasn’t given. I’m thinking Officer Rushton doesn’t want anyone trying to beat his “high score”!
As the night progressed, we started chatting Dodge. Officer Rushton has been a Dodge nut for nearly a decade, and we met when he purchased a 2012 Dodge Charger SXT. These days, he’s piloting a Ram 1500. At any given time, their department’s parking lot looks like an FCA dealership. I think that also shows how well Dodge does at the Pursuit game, where it’s not only turning the department into Dodge fans, but also showing up in the officers’ personal choices of vehicle.
One of the newest Dodge Pursuit vehicles is the Durango, which Officer Rushton’s department is looking at purchasing as soon as our state makes them an approved vehicle for police departments. The advantage of adding the Durango to the fleet comes down to the maintenance. If they’re running the Charger and Durango, it’s the same tire, same oil, same filter, same coolant, etc. This makes maintaining a fleet of vehicles faster, simpler and cheaper.
Once their department gets the Durango Pursuit, you know I’ll be back for another ride and another story.