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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Washington Legislature. Austin Jenkins is the Olympia correspondent for the Northwest News Network. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) weekly public affairs program "Inside Olympia."

Washington State Patrol Switching Back To Ford

Washington State Patrol

The Washington State Patrol is switching back to Ford police cruisers after a brief, but rocky dalliance with Chevy.

The Patrol briefed key state lawmakers Wednesday on the decision to drop the Chevy Caprice as the patrol car of choice after less than two years.

Captain Rob Huss says the Caprice is assembled in Australia and deliveries for many of the cars were delayed -- sometimes by months.

“Additionally we were finding some defects in the vehicles when we were receiving them," says Huss. "Thirty percent had water leakage, we were having to send those out for repair.”

The Washington State Patrol will continue to drive the more than 300 Caprices it did purchase. But going forward, troopers will be outfitted with the police version of the Ford Explorer. The Patrol says the SUV will cost a bit more up front, but will be cheaper to maintain.

Other selling points are the all-wheel-drive and larger capacity. The Washington State Patrol originally switched to Chevy after Ford stopped production of the popular Crown Victoria in 2011.

Since January 2004, Austin Jenkins has been the Olympia-based political reporter for the Northwest News Network. In that position, Austin covers Northwest politics and public policy, as well as the Washington State Legislature. You can also see Austin on television as host of TVW's (the C–SPAN of Washington State) Emmy-nominated public affairs program "Inside Olympia."