SEPTEMBER MONTHLY MEETING, Drouin Golf Club – Thursday 8th Sept.

With winter now behind us and the days lengthening out, one is less inclined to stay at home by the fire of an evening; especially when a nice meal and a catch-up with friends is on offer at the Drouin Golf Club. A good crowd of over 50 members and guests attended our meeting this month which had on display the Victorian Highway Patrol’s newest pursuit vehicle – a Mercedes-AMG GLE63 S.  This is one very substantial vehicle, standing almost 6” high and weighing in at almost 2.5 ton it takes up its fair share of road and garage space, but with a twin turbo 5.5-litre V8 pushing out 430kW and 760Nm through all-four wheels, it’s no slouch. Mercedes claims this is good enough for a 4.2-second blast to 100km/h and a low-12-second quarter-mile sprint.

The car is on loan from Mercedes-Benz to the Victorian Police for 6 months as an evaluation vehicle. With the imminent closing down of Holden and Ford’s manufacturing plants in Australia, the police are looking for a suitable replacement to their SS Commodores which have been the highway patrol vehicle of choice for many years. This could be one option, although fairly unlikely due to the $200,000 price tag. This particular AMG GLE63 is doing the rounds of police divisions and was nabbed for our meeting by Sporting Register member Clint Wilson, who is the police officer responsible for the Force’s involvement in Channel Seven’s Highway Patrol TV series.

Clint gave us a presentation about how the TV program is put together and the role the police have in ensuring that the correct messages about road safety and driving behaviour are conveyed to the viewing audience, which is about 1.4 million per episode. Filming for each new series of 10 episodes takes place over an 18-week period. The Highway Patrol members who have volunteered to be involved, are filmed continuously throughout their shifts and followed around by second patrol car with the camera and sound technicians on board. At the end of the 18 weeks, the crews will have filmed in excess of 2700 intercepts from which 4 or 5 stories are selected for each of the 10 episodes. It can be up to 18 months between filming and broadcasting due to the time required for courts to hear certain cases and hand down their findings. It was very interesting to hear from Clint on the way the Force views this program.  The key to success for them is to see value in terms of road safety results. That the program just happens to be good entertainment is merely a by-product.

The Club is grateful to Clint for arranging to borrow the Mercedes-AMG for our meeting and for putting together an entertaining and informative presentation.

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