Hey officer, that thing got a Hemi in it? Speeders beware. The answer soon is likely to be yes.

The old Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is no longer king of the law enforcement hill with its relatively puny 250 horsepower 4.6-liter V-8 motor.

The new Dodge Charger is on the way. The car is faster, more efficient, safer and better handling than the Ford. At least that is what the experts who are testing the car say.

For a little more than $2,000 extra, the Dodge Charger Police Interceptor comes with a 340 horsepower 5.7-liter Hemi.

Dodge has decided it wants a slice of the 70,000-unit police car market. The Charger is more modern and technologically advanced than the Ford and considerably more menacing when dressed up like a cop car.

As any speed demon who ever looked warily in his rearview mirror for that tell-tale Plymouth Gran Fury profile will attest, Chrysler was once the No. 1 manufacturer of police cruisers, but it stopped making police cars in the 1980s.

Ford and Chevrolet stepped up and the vehicle many police departments use today is the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. Nearly 18 feet long and with rear-wheel drive, the "Crown Vic" looks pretty much like it did in the early 1990s.

The Dodge Charger has attracted a lot of interest in the law enforcement community and the Charger police package only costs about $1,000 more than the Crown Victoria.

The Dodge police package is impressive. The automaker has moved the Charger's centrally-located gear selector to the column to make room for all the police equipment that rests between the seats.

The engine is fitted with an engine hour-meter and the Charger carries external oil coolers for the engine oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid, allowing the cop car to run at extremely high speeds for sustained periods.

The Charger also has a heavy duty cooling system and air conditioning is standard but only for front seat occupants. Those penned up in the back will have to sweat it out.

The Charger Police Interceptor rides on a stiffer suspension than a stock Charger. The speedometer is a certified and calibrated unit. The 18-inch steel wheels are shod with high-performance tires along with big brakes with dual piston front calipers. Anti-lock brakes and electronic stability management are standard on the police cruiser.

Dodge offers two engines. First is the 250-hp 3.5-liter V-6 economy engine which matches the output of the Ford Interceptor's V-8.

Then we have the big dog 340-hp 5.7-liter Hemi, which, is a $2,200 option and the engine every lawman wants to drive.

A Hemi-powered police Charger can hit 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds and tops out at 150 mph, making the Charger faster than the Ford Police Interceptor.

Projected mileage for the V-8 is about 17 miles per gallon in the city and 25 mpg on the highway and that is better than mileage for the heavier Crown Victoria, which is listed as 16 mpg city and 22 mpg highway.

A sophisticated wiring harness was incorporated in the car to make it easy to add new devices and accessories, and the whole vehicle wiring and electronic system has been upgraded to cope with the massive electrical needs of a police vehicle.

The interceptor comes from the manufacturer with holes drilled into the A-pillars and wiring in place for spot lamps and there is a "stake-out" switch to turn off ever light in the car except for the gear indicator.

Police officials around the country will assess the Chargers overall performance to determine whether the cars measure up to police standards as well as hold up under the rigors of heavy police use.

The price tag is not too overwhelming. The standard version of the Dodge Charger Police car sells for $26,575 and $28,805 with the HEMI.