Gentryville Police moving forward at Lightning speed

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By Don Steen ~ Staff Writer • reporter@psci.net

The Gentryville Police Department has a flashy new flagship for its vehicle fleet, a 2023 Ford F-150 Lightning. The all-electric police truck was funded entirely by a federal Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant, which funded both the truck, charging station, and other necessary equipment without a local match requirement. This puts the Town of Gentryville in the spotlight, as many police departments across the region, as well as government agencies, will be monitoring the performance of the Lightning as it begins its duties on the road. Speeders hoping to outrun the Lightning may also discover, to their sorrow, that its name is well earned.

While the truck is still being outfitted, it already bears the appropriate decals and is already in use for departmental duties. Deputy Allison Luker took the Lightning on a maiden voyage to Indianapolis last month, both to collect a piece of equipment for the department and put the vehicle’s range to the test. 

The police variant of the Lightning has extended range, generally around 320 miles. Luker had to stop in Bloomington for a recharge on the way back home, which took about 40 minutes at a fast-charging station. It’s not quite the same as an in-and-out fill up at a gas station, but with some planning it wasn’t much of an issue. Everyday operations will usually suffice with the slower charging station at department, which takes eight hours to charge from empty.

Marshal Alfred Braunecker Jr. said it remains to be seen how other equipment will impact the range of the Lightning, once the vehicle is fully outfitted. One factor that will be closely monitored now that the Lightning is in service is how the charging will impact power costs for the department. Braunecker anticipates significant savings in the long run, potentially in the thousands of dollars annually. That could then be reinvested into other equipment needs such as body armor. 

Naturally, a new vehicle will also have fewer recurring mechanical issues than the 2010 Crown Victoria the Lightning is replacing. Luker said that once one gets a handle on the quirks of an electric vehicle, notably its pronounced lack of noise and quite fast acceleration, it was a very comfortable drive. 

“It drives unbelievably well,” she said. “It’s an anywhere vehicle. It’s a nicer vehicle. I don’t have the fear of it breaking down like the Crown Vic.”

Read more on this story in this week’s issue of the Spencer County Leader!

Featured Image: Marshal Alfred Braunecker Jr. and Deputy Allison Luker pose by their new Ford F-150 Lightning squad truck

A close-up view of the new Ford F-150 Lightning squad truck. Deputy Allison Luker got the honor of taking the new truck on its maiden voyage to Indianapolis last month.