Montgomery County police pull cruisers for steering problem

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Local,Maryland,Rachel Baye

Steering problems with two Montgomery County police cruisers prompted the county to pull 324 of its about 1,400 cars from the street for inspections Tuesday, according to Department of General Services Director David Dise.

The steering mechanism in a Ford Crown Victoria failed in July. When a second Crown Victoria had a similar problem about a week ago, the Montgomery County Police Department decided to pull all of the 2005-through-2011 Crown Victorias from the road.

The department requires the cars to be inspected whenever an officer faces "unusual resistance" turning the steering wheel, according to spokeswoman Lucille Baur. The department has never before had to pull so many cars from the road at once.

Of the 163 vehicles that had been inspected by noon Tuesday, 127 were returned to the road without issue, 33 needed preventive repairs and three were found to have the same steering issue as the two cars that prompted the inspections, Baur said. All 324 inspections should be done by Thursday.

The inspections have not affected the number of officers on patrol because officers work in shifts and sometimes ride two to a cruiser, Baur said. "Those are not the only police vehicles that we have. We use other makes of police vehicles, and we also have other cars that are kept for use in circumstances such as these."

The department also uses Dodge Chargers, Chevy Impalas and Chevy Caprices. There are a total of 924 marked police cars, and the 324 cars pulled are both marked and unmarked, according to Baur.

rbaye@washingtonexaminer.com

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