AMERICAN POLICE CAR HISTORY 101
Sergeant James Post
Early spring is a great time of the year for those of us living in “four seasons” parts of America. Trees and flowers are blooming; birds are singing; and, to replace the boredom of winter, calls for service are increasing. But, spring sucks for Law Enforcement (LE) vehicle writers such as myself because the “Big Three” automakers, the motorcycle builders and the LE equipment manufacturers are either still designing, building or tweaking next year’s products or they are keeping their big reveals under wraps until the large expos, such as the Police Security Expo, the Police Fleet Expo and the IACP Conference, and the annual tests conducted by the Michigan State Police and the LA County Sheriff’s Office are held. We writers can speculate and guess all we want, but our readers are not interested in fake news; they want and demand, as Sgt. Friday often said, “just the facts.”
So, my columns this time of year are usually devoted to our past…the good old (and not so old) days of law enforcement. By design, LE has to be proactive and always planning for the next event – be it a presidential visit, a natural disaster or an active shooter. For these reasons, it is sometimes refreshing to take a few minutes and visit our past. At P&SN, we take the past seriously and many of our articles reflect that fact.
I’ve been writing this column since before most of today’s police recruits were even born, so this issue’s essay will be a review of past popular articles of mine – this time, in Q&A form to see if you were paying attention. There are no prizes…just, hopefully, the personal satisfaction of recognizing where we all came from. And, think of all the great trivia you’ll have when you and your buddies are betting for beers. The correct answers are listed on at the end of this column. Good luck and enjoy!
The Greatest Hits
1. The January/February 2006 column was devoted to preventing police vehicle thefts. Police car thefts pose a significant liability risk to agencies and a threat to the public; they are second only to pursuits. We quoted a study of the first 11 months of 2005. On average, how many police cars were stolen or damaged by an attempted theft every day?
2. In the same study, we reported that, although we feel comfortable with prisoners secured behind partitions, what percentage of all prisoner escapes were from police vehicles with partitions? 15.5%, 59.2% or 83.7%
3. In the September/October 2013 issue, we reported that the bankrupt city of Detroit was to be the recipient of free 2014 model police cars, complete with new graphics, donated by the “Big Three.” This amounted to 100 cars from each company. True or false?
4. “You Ought to Be in Pictures” was the title of my column in our September/October 2003 issue. It dealt with how to respond to film companies wanting to rent police cars or hire off-duty officers as actors. We quoted a policy from the 1995 Film Industry Safety Committee which designated the person on a set who is responsible for ALL weapons, including issuing and securing weapons and blank ammo and training, plus checking the weapons of off-duty officers hired as extras. What is the title of this person?
5. The same article listed several items to be included in any agreement between your department and a movie company about renting police cars. Replacing dead batteries was one. True or false?
6. My January/February 2014 column was all about car chases. I quoted an IACP study which dissected 7737 car chases in the US. What percentage of the chases was for nonviolent crimes: 50%, 91% or 27%?
7. The same IACP study also listed the reasons given by officers for initiating a pursuit. The number one reason given was because the vehicle was believed to be stolen. True or false?
8. The January/February 2001 issue featured my column on the history of police pony cars, such as B4C Camaros and SSP Mustangs. This is a two part question: (A) In 1971 and 1972, which US agency was the first to purchase pony cars (two-door sports cars) for marked enforcement? (B) Name the car.
9. My September/October 2011 column was about the history of sirens, from mechanical to electronic to the ground pounding “rumblers” from Federal Signal. Which siren company is recognized as the pioneer in the development of electronic sirens?
10. The January/February 2017 column was all about SWAT vehicles. Chief Darryl Gates of the LAPD is often given credit for the first SWAT team; however, the first SWAT team was created in 1964 in which city?
11. The same column also discussed the Department of Defense which, for 20 years, had made military vehicles available to LE agencies. However, all of that ended in 2015 with President Obama’s two part Executive Order 13688. Section one was titled, “Prohibited Equipment List.” Which of the following did the list not include: tracked armored vehicles, weaponized aircraft, wheeled armored vehicles, or bayonets?
12. The May/June 2007 column was titled, “Cop Cars Are Slow? Apparently, Motor Trend Thinks So,” and it was my response to Motor Trend magazine’s article, “Cop Cars Are Slow. We Prove It,” which contained their misleading “tests” of current police cars and may have even prompted more violators to run. But, even more insulting were their statements about the benefits of owning a used police car which likely encouraged even more impersonators to buy them. Among the many inflammatory statements they made were, “Flashing lights are fun; sirens are even funnier,” “Merge onto the freeway and the traffic ahead parts like the Red Sea,” and “It was fun parking at the meter all day for free.” In short, they did an incredible disservice to every police officer in America. The one accurate statistic they did quote was the number of car chases in California in 2005. Were there 3467, 5662 or 7934 chases?
13. “Your Next JEEP® May Be a Ford” is how my May/June 2001 column began and was prompted by a report that DaimlerChrysler was considering selling off some low producing divisions, including JEEP. The prevailing rumor was that Ford was considering purchasing that line. We followed that report with a review of a previous article about the police package AHB JEEP Cherokees (1997-1999). One of the departments featured was in a suburb of Fort Worth, TX, which replaced their entire marked fleet in 1997 with AHB JEEP Cherokees. What was that department?
14. My May/June 2000 column presented the history of the popular 1991 to 1996 9C1 Chevy Caprices. It included a Caprice Spotters Guide which described mechanical, interior and exterior changes, plus production numbers for each year. This is a two part question: (A) Before moving all Caprice production to one factory in 1993, in which two cities were they first built? (B) Was the year that saw the most 9C1 Caprices built 1991, 1993 or 1996?
15. Referring to the previous question, which popular “civilian version” of the 9C1 Caprice appeared in 1994?
16. In my May/June 2004 column, we featured the Missouri State Highway Patrol (MSHP) Motor Vehicle Division and their very successful vehicle resale program. Their fleet at that time amassed 25 million miles a year and their annual fleet budget was just over ten million dollars. We reported that the MSHP both upfits their vehicles for duty and details them for resale in-house. This is a two part question: (A) Were the MSHP vehicles retired at 100,000, 75,500 or 49,500 miles? (B) In 2004, their vehicles were sold at fixed prices set by the state at what percentage of the sticker price (MSRP)?
17. In the May/June 2016 issue, we revisited the MSHP, due in part to a 2014 catastrophic fire which destroyed their garage and eight vehicles parked inside. We provided a visual tour of the new facility and also included an update on their vehicle resale program. In 2015, their annual miles driven was 31.7 million, an increase of 30% over 2004, and their budget for vehicle replacement increased to $13 million, up 27%. The vehicle resale program remained successful, with vehicles being sold to agencies across the US. This is a two part question: (A) The criteria for retirement and resale price had changed slightly in the intervening 12 years between the two articles and the mileage at retirement on sedans increased somewhat to how many miles? (B) Because of the increased miles, the percentage of the MSRP decreased to what?
18. My columns have frequently mentioned the police department I retired from after 25 years. Was that Kansas City, MO; Quakertown, PA; or Saint Louis, MO?
19. My May/June 2012 column was titled, “The Crown Victoria Police Interceptor Remembrance,” and it was our obituary for the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, arguably the best-selling police car in North America ever. Accompanying Ford’s announcement that the CVPI production would end on September 15, 2011, was their announcement that the replacements would be built in Chicago. The assembly plant which had built the Crown Vics and was permanently shuttered was in which city?
20. Which North American police agency requested and received the last CVPI built for their museum? Was it the NYPD, the KSHP or the CHP?
21. The title of my May/June 2011 column was “Police Cars Which Never Were” and we discussed unusual nonpolice package police cars which had been purchased over the years. The CHP had experimented with a number of unusual vehicles over the years, including BMWs, Volvos and AMC Eagles. On the East Coast, the FLHP had also experimented with alternative brands, such as Datsun 280Zs. In 2003, an unidentified benefactor donated to the FLHP a dozen vehicles in different colors. Which one is correct: Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang or Mercury Marauder?
22. The September/October 2004 column was about new developments. We reported on an unusual vehicle the Northern Illinois University DPS had selected for their campus patrol. Was it a new VW Beetle, Segway or Toyota Prius?
23. In the May/June and September/October issues of 2018, we featured a two part column on the history of police car engines, starting with the 1932 Ford “Deuce” flathead V-8. This is a three part question: (A) Which big block GM V-8 was immortalized in a Beach Boys’ song? (B) Which Mopar engine powered the Blues Brothers’ Bluesmobile? (C) In 2003, Chrysler debuted the Gen III HEMI® engine in which vehicle?
24. My January/February 2019 column was about car chases and the PIT maneuver. The CHP is usually credited with originating the PIT maneuver which is a variation of the “bump and run” technique used in stock car racing. Which agency actually developed the PIT maneuver over 30 years ago?
25. May/June 2006 brought readers my column on fleet vehicle inspections. I listed several objectives an aggressive vehicle inspection program should achieve besides saving money. Which one is correct: discover mechanical problems early, increase resale value or increase officers’ pride and morale?
But, Wait, There’s More
If you are interested in past issues of P&SN, downloadable PDFs of entire issues are archived back to 2015 at policeandsecuritynews.com.
Sergeant James Post appreciates your comments, questions and suggestions for future columns. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Answers to Questions
- One a day
- False. It was 100 total cars.
- Property (or Prop) Master
- False. The number one reason given was for traffic violations.
- (A) Alabama State Patrol (or Alabama DPS) (B) AMC Javelin (SST or AMX)
- Carson Sirens
- Philadelphia, PA
- Wheeled Armored Vehicles were listed under the Controlled Equipment List.
- River Oaks, TX, PD
- (A) Willow Run, MI, and Arlington, TX (B) 1991
- Impala SS
- (A) 49,500 miles (B) 75%
- (A) 54,000 miles (B) 60-70%
- St. Thomas, Ontario, Canada
- Mercury Marauder
- Toyota Prius
- (A) Chevy 409 (B) 440 Cop Motor or 440 Magnum (C) RAM pickup
- Fairfax County, VA
- All of the above