RCMP in the Okanagan marked the end of an era last month as they said farewell to their trusted partner, when the final Ford Crown Victoria police vehicle in the region took its last ride.
For many years leading up to this bittersweet farewell, the Crown "Vic" police car, stood as one of the most iconic symbols of the RCMP in Canada.
Officially recognized as the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, RCMP say this four-door vehicle had been in production from 1992 to 2011 and held the title of the preferred police vehicle from 1997 to 2013.
It enjoyed widespread use among law enforcement agencies across Canada, the United States, and Mexico, with the RCMP being no exception. The Crown Vic earned its place in the RCMP fleet due to its reputation for durability, reliability, and safety.
During that time, the West Kelowna, Lake Country, Peachland, and Kelowna RCMP detachments relied on the Crown Vic as the primary vehicle for their daily duties and patrols. While SUVs were also part of the mix, the Crown Vic reigned supreme in their fleet.
Twelve years ago, the sun set on the production of the Crown Vic when the final model rolled off the assembly line in September 2011. Police forces throughout North America embarked on the journey of phasing them out, exploring the increasingly popular SUV alternatives that most officers now operate.
Up until recently, the West Kelowna RCMP retained a rare, last-of-its-kind Crown Vic in service.
Const. Sherri Lund had the honour of driving this historic vehicle across the Okanagan during its final days of active duty. However, as of the end of August, the Crown Vic has officially retired from police work, closing an unforgettable chapter.
"I cherished every moment driving the last Crown Vic in the Okanagan. My colleagues often approached me to share their favourite Crown Vic memories and discuss what a remarkable car it was," said Lund, a West Kelowna RCMP school resource officer.
"As the primary driver in West Kelowna, and given my role with the schools, the students recognized it was me behind the wheel, and I frequently received waves and hellos."
Despite its age and racked-up kilometres, Lund attests that the vehicle could still be in active service today.
"The vehicle is still in excellent condition, and the engine would roar to life at the touch of the gas pedal. Its only quirk was an inability to idle with the air conditioning on, as it struggled to maintain engine temperature. I recall a hot day last June when I left the vehicle in secure idle mode to keep my computer running while I visited a high school. Minutes later, the students rushed into the school office, exclaiming, 'Your car is on fire, Cst. Lund!' I rushed outside, expecting flames, but it was merely steam from a blown radiator."
Lund had been the sole driver of her Crown Vic since its arrival in West Kelowna.
The vehicle had been designated for the school resource officer position, sparing it from the wear and tear experienced by other police vehicles and the presence of multiple drivers. "I took immense pride in driving that car, preserving its legacy...and its keys!"
Now that the Crown Vic has officially retired from duty, Lund has had to adapt to a different mode of transportation, but it's just not the same.
"I'm primarily driving an SUV now, the Ford Explorer, and I must admit, they lack the power and road-hugging ability of the Crown Vic. I never had any concerns about taking curves at speed while driving that car."
Over the course of 11 years, Lund's Crown Vic journey is filled with countless stories.
"Driving it for the final time was a strange feeling. It has been the vehicle that accompanied me throughout my career as a school resource officer, and the students have grown familiar with it. It feels like a part of my identity. There was definitely a sense of sadness when I finally had to bid it farewell."