A routine traffic stop became anything but ordinary when the battery of a Melbourne Beach police vehicle suddenly caught fire.
Officer Alvin Moore was returning to his car when he smelled smoke coming from the trunk. Upon closer inspection, a small flame was visible in the auxiliary battery, a secondary battery responsible for working the lights and onboard computer.
No one was injured.
According to Melbourne Beach Police Chief Melanie Griswold, the fire started when a wire from an animal catch pole stored in the trunk hit the battery. Moore was able to contain it, but damage to the 2013 Chevrolet Caprice was too extensive for repairs.
“It was a very fluke incident; we’ve never had an issue before with any other batteries,” Griswold said. “It burnt the brain of the car and it would be very expensive to fix.”
A new 2019 Dodge Charger has been ordered to replace the damaged car.
“You can fix electronics, but we can’t tell if there are other problems,” Griswold said.
The Melbourne Beach Police Department has a fleet of six vehicles: three Chevy Caprices (including the damaged vehicle) and three Dodge Chargers.
Last year, the department did not replace any vehicles, something typically done on an annual basis. But now they will get two. Another 2019 Dodge Charger was already under order before the incident occurred. It will replace a 2013 Caprice.
Griswold says Dodge Chargers are more reliable vehicles, which is important for a department that logs an average of 77,000 miles each year on patrol.
“We do community policing and we have to have dependable cars,” Griswold said.