Police officers have a mobile office: "big boys have big toys"

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Fully loaded: The Altamont police have a 2013 Ford Interceptor, which passed a 75-mile-per-hour rear-crash test among many other strengths that have defined the police vehicle. Here, Patrolman Christopher Laurenzo stands next to the cruiser, which carries traffic cones and a 12-gauge shotgun in the trunk.

The Enterprise — Jordan J. Michael

Driving through the village in a 2013 Ford Interceptor is Altamont Patrolman Christopher Laurenzo, 29, who has been on the force for seven years. He says the all-wheel-drive, V6 Twin Turbo Eco-boost cruiser is “made to be beat up.”   

ALTAMONT — Some people go to work and sit at a desk. Police take their office on the road, protecting and serving the community.

A police cruiser is a high-performance mobile office.

The Altamont police have a 2013 Ford Interceptor, complete with a V6 Twin Turbo Ecoboost engine and a printer inside the armrest. It cost $41,000 and is made to drive fast, but can also be used to find information on anyone who lives in Albany County.

“If I’m in my own personal car, it feels empty because I’m used to having all these tools,” said Altamont Patrolman Christopher Laurenzo, 29, who has been on the force for seven years.

He once found himself in a high-speed chase after a car pulled away from him during a stop near the Altamont Elementary School.

The Interceptor has all-wheel drive and bulletproof doors lined with Kevlar. The back seat acts as a jail cell, and the in-car Mobile Data Terminal is logged into the Department of Motor Vehicles.

“Little boys have little toys, and big boys have big toys,” Laurenzo said as he drove around the village last Friday. “It’s fun. It’s the real-life version of playing. Every situation is different.”

The standard Personal Safety System of the Interceptor uses a network of sophisticated sensors that manage the operation of the vehicle’s airbags and front safety belts. In the cruiser, these sensors have been programmed exclusively to recognize the difference between rounds being fired from a gun and the impact of a crash, so that airbags are not involuntarily deployed during a firefight.

If the Interceptor does get into a collision, the safety cell helps direct the force of the collision around the occupant section, reducing the brunt forces on the occupants. The Interceptor is one of the fastest cars around, but also one of the most secure.

Most arrests in Altamont are for traffic infractions. “We always have to be prepared for the worst,” said Laurenzo. “In most cases, we’re stopping people that we don’t know anything about. Anything could go wrong.”

All police cruisers have in-dash cameras, and Laurenzo wears a microphone for sound. He said the Interceptor doesn’t have a license plate reader, but the other Altamont police car does. The cruiser has the standard mobile radio and radar system, and, if Laurenzo is ever listening to the Guilderland dispatch, he can read what is being typed on the MDT.

“I learned to adapt to all these distractions,” he said. “My ears are trained for specific call signs on the radio. I’ll talk on the radio while driving, but I try not to use all these gadgets when I’m at the wheel.”

Laurenzo opened up the Interceptor’s trunk, revealing a 12-gauge shotgun, traffic cones, and all the radio system and siren light hook-ups. There’s usually a set of spike strips inside the trunk, and Laurenzo unlocked a built-in safe, which is used to secure his handgun before he enters a jail; weapons aren’t allowed inside of a jail.

Also in the trunk is an Alco-Sensor, a pocket-sized breath tester, which Laurenzo uses often. Like any police officer, he’s dealt with his share of unruly drunken people.

“There’s no way that they can get out of the back of this car,” Laurenzo said. “They can’t stick anything between the seats either.”

Since police cars spend time idling or running hot, efficient fuel economy is a necessity. The Interceptor gets at least 20 percent better fuel efficiency than the 2011 Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, according to the manufacturer. Also, the 2013 Interceptor has heavy-duty wheels and tires for rugged road conditions that might come at high speeds.

The Interceptor is the complete package for any cop, and Laurenzo said that the car is “made to be beat.”

To show off the Interceptor’s pick-up capabilities, Laurenzo floored it up a steep hill on Route 156. Going around a sharp turn, the car handled phenomenally.

With all the technology and performance at his fingertips, Laurenzo finds it easier to do his job. He drives around the village and everyone waves hello.

“This is an exciting job, and it’s rewarding to serve the people,” he said. “I’m glad to have this car; it’s a great car. It’s totally built for the job.”