Texas Troopers, California Highway Patrol Like Mustang GTs
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) _ The Department of Public Safety, charged with enforcing traffic laws in the wide-open spaces, is expanding its use of high-powered pursuit cars.
The trend started a few years ago when state troopers were being outrun by criminal suspects and traffic-law violators.
The California Highway Patrol was solving a similar problem with a fleet of 160-horsepower Ford Mustang GTs capable of 130 mph, so Texas decided to experiment and bought two dozen Mustang GTs.
Texas now has 191 Mustang GTs in its pursuit fleet of 950 marked cars, Mike Cox, DPS spokesman, said Friday. The department will add 140 Mustangs this year and replace 60 Ford LTDs with Mustangs, bringing the number of Mustangs in the fleet to 391, Cox said.
The California Highway Patrol has about 2,200 cars, including about 410 Mustangs. It also has 325 motorcycles. The Mustang GTs are identical to models sold to the public except for lights, markings and radar, according to DPS officials.
DPS officials say they prefer the Mustang GTs to Ford LTDs and Dodge Diplomats, the standard pursuit cars, which are much larger and considerably slower than the Mustangs.
The 1987 Mustang GT is even faster than earlier DPS Mustangs. The cars, which have 5-liter, V-8 engines, have a top speed of nearly 150 mph, according to road tests by automotive magazines.
Trooper Tim Ferguson calls the Mustangs ″a refreshing change of pace″ for troopers who drive all day, and an important safety advance.
In the Mustang, ″you don’t have to chase somebody for 10 miles. The chase is over quicker, and that’s safer for me and safer for other cars on the road,″ he said.
Ferguson credits the Mustang’s rapid acceleration more than the top speed in allowing him to catch speeders sooner.
Troopers assigned to the Mustangs are required to attend a high-performance driving school, said Capt. Frankie Waller.