KOKOMO, Ind. — There's a new set of red and blue lights on campus.
The Indiana University Kokomo police department proudly patrols campus in its new 2013 Ford Interceptor, complete with the latest technology to access criminal justice data.
"It is awesome," said Jerry Williams, interim police chief. "I've driven police vehicles for years, and usually one is about the same as another. This one is the best I've ever driven. It looks really cool, too."
The new vehicle also has the latest in LED light bars, strobe lights, and showcases the new IUPD logo. It replaces the 2009 Impala that was the department's first vehicle when it was created five years ago. Before that, the campus had a safety and security office, mainly staffed by off-duty officers from area police departments.
Williams is especially happy to have computer access to the Indiana Data and Communication System (IDACS), the criminal justice communications system that allows officers to look up license plate numbers and warrants.
"All modern police departments have this system," he said. "This allows our officers to check license plates when we have an unfamiliar car without a permit on campus. It increases safety for our officers, too, because it may let us know if the person in the car is someone we need to be cautious approaching. It will help us do our job of keeping people safe here. We have wanted and needed this for a long time.
In addition, the new vehicle's equipment allows officers to enforce traffic laws in its jurisdiction around the campus, and gives the department mobility to assist city police officers and county deputies if their help is needed.
"If there is an emergency in our area, we are now more prepared to respond and assist," Williams said.
Williams said having the new vehicle also familiarizes the police department cadets, who are criminal justice students, for what they will drive when they graduate and accept jobs with other departments.
Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.