With the help of a $74,000 federal grant, three new police cruisers will hit Beaufort's streets early next year.
Parked behind the Police Department's Boundary Street headquarters, two jet black 2010 Dodge Chargers are outfitted with a new stripe design. The third car is in the shop getting its decals applied, said Police Chief Matt Clancy.
The department also received $372,000 this year from the Justice Department to hire and train two officers and another $18,000for new revolvers.
Clancy said the new cars will replace three aging Ford Crown Victorias, each with more than 100,000 miles.
"We needed these new cars," Clancy said. "These Chargers have six cylinders instead of eight and should be better on gas. Also, Ford is discontinuing the Crown Victoria so we won't be able to buy those anymore, so we wanted to look at some alternatives."
The new cruisers will have a different look than the 53 other police cars in the city's fleet, thanks to an in-house design contest earlier this year.
"The Charger has a different body style and the lines on the car are different, so we wanted to have a competition within the department to see if we could come up with a design using the same color scheme," Clancy said.
Investigator George Erdel's design will grace the new cars, Clancy said.
The cars will be outfitted with a computer, a lightbar atop the car and a push bumper, Clancy said. Theequipment is also covered by the grant.
Clancy said competition for who gets to drive the three new cruisers has been stiff.
"Let's just say, I wish I had a dime for each time I've been asked, 'When do I get my keys, Chief?' " Clancy said.
Officers have yet to be assigned to the new cars, he said.