The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News

The student news site of Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Illinois.

The Daily Eastern News


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Fresh set of wheels for Eastern police department

T.J. Seputis
The Eastern Illinois University Police Department’s newest patrol vehicle, Car 42, parked the EIU police station on Thursday, Sept. 28, 2023.

As part of its mission to keep the campus safe, the Eastern Illinois University Police Department recently put its newest patrol vehicle into operation.

Having functional patrol vehicles is essential for providing police services to the community, according to Police Chief Marisol Gamboa.

“We have to have safe vehicles for our officers, and we have to have safe vehicles for our community,” Gamboa said.

The EIU Police Department responds to emergency calls for service at all hours of the day.

“We are very dedicated to our community here, and our officer’s safety is as important,” she said.

The department’s latest vehicle is a black 2023 Ford Police Interceptor Utility.

It is in service as a general patrol car and is equipped as such. As is typical in the industry, the 2023 interceptor first arrived at EIU PD with none of the aftermarket equipment that is needed for police work.

“Nothing, it had absolutely nothing,” Lt. Michael Lusk said.

Lusk said that the car was initially used as an administrative car until the necessary aftermarket components were delivered and installed.

“We had to arrange for the exterior decals, and then we had to send it off to the upfitter for all of the devices to be added,” he said.

The Police Interceptor Utility vehicle platform is based on a modified version of the Ford Explorer SUV.

The Police Interceptor Utility is designed with police patrol use in mind. It has heavier duty powertrain components, an all rubber floor and enhancements to the electrical system that enable upfitters to easily add aftermarket police equipment.

According to purchasing documents, the acquisition of EIU PD’s new Ford Interceptor was approved in May 2023.

The vehicle arrived during summer break and was placed in service as a patrol car around the end of August 2023.

The department paid $44,570 to Bob Ridings Inc., in Taylorville, Ill., for the cost of the vehicle itself. The department paid an additional $16,790 to Global Technical Systems Inc. in Effingham for the parts and labor associated with the installation of aftermarket police equipment for the vehicle.

Some of that equipment includes a Code 3 16 series lightbar, Whelen siren and light controller, Feniex siren speaker, Feniex lightstick and warning lightheads, Havis console and computer dock, Setina trunk cargo box and a Setina rear seat partition.

The aftermarket equipment is consistent with most modern police patrol vehicles in the area.

EIU Police Officer Joel Stewart has been behind the wheel of the new Ford Interceptor.

“It drives like a new car,” he said.

When compared to a 2010 Ford Escape in the department’s fleet, Stewart said, “This one’s got cup holders, so I prefer this one.”

Stewart said that the latest addition to the patrol fleet is noticeably larger than some of the PD’s other vehicles. Stewart has not yet had the chance to put the new car to the test responding to an urgent call, but he anticipates that it will perform exceptionally.

As of Tuesday, EIU PD had five vehicles including a Ford Police Interceptor Sedan that is out of service due to a blown engine. The interceptor sedan had been used as a primary vehicle due to other vehicles being down.

Lusk said that out of necessity, the car had been “hotseated,” meaning that it was used shift after shift with little to no down time.

“It just far exceeded its life expectancy because of the level to which it was used,” Lusk said.

Along with the 2023 interceptor utility that went into service as a patrol car around the end of August 2023, EIU PD received two additional Ford Police Interceptor vehicles.

One of those vehicles will be a marked patrol car and one will be a white unmarked vehicle. Both of the newly delivered cars are awaiting the installation of aftermarket police equipment at this time.

The department has also developed a vehicle replacement plan that is currently awaiting approval from university administration.

This plan would formally provide for the replacement of aging or overly costly police vehicles. The replacement plan would evaluate a variety of factors including, initial vehicle value, mileage, repair cost, wear and tear and how much has been invested into the vehicle.

Once a vehicle has reached a point, at which it is no longer financially sensible to keep maintaining it, the police department would be able to replace it.


T.J. Seputis can be reached at 581-2812 or at [email protected].


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