Red Bank police detectives soon will be the first in the country to conduct surveillance and chase down suspects while behind the wheel of locally made Volkswagen Passats.
The Red Bank City Commission unanimously voted Tuesday night to approve the purchase of two Passats, which will cost $21,278 apiece.
Volkswagen director of communications Carsten Krebs said Red Bank is the first municipality in the nation to buy the cars, and will be the first to add them to a police fleet.
"It's a great day, and we're very happy that the city of Red Bank wrote history tonight," Krebs said.
Red Bank Police Chief Tim Christol, who took a test drive in the Passat at a local dealer after a monthslong bidding process, said he was won over by features like the cars' roominess, wide wheel base, good gas mileage and a responsive engine.
But the key selling point was the fact that they were built by local hands.
"Certainly buying these two vehicles isn't going to make or break this dealer or the manufacturer. But every once in a while you need to stand up and support the local community in any way we can," Christol said.
The "homegrown" angle also swayed the city commissioners, including Mayor Monty Millard.
"It's a positive thing that we're actually going to purchase vehicles that are made by Chattanoogans," he said.
Volkswagen will contract with another company to outfit the cars with standard emergency equipment, including lights, a siren and a PA system. That customization is included in the price, said Christol.
Among the six approved bids, only a $20,892 Dodge Charger was less expensive than the Passat. But Christol said the Charger was outfitted as a patrol car -- the opposite of what the department needed for its detectives.
The city budgeted $66,710 in debt service for the police department this year, which will include the cars' purchase.
After the Passats are ordered, they will be delivered in about two months.
The city also approved the $25,618 purchase of a Ford Explorer for the department. Money for that vehicle will come from the department's drug fund.