Police car

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A Ford Crown Victoria police car of the New York City Police Department in April 2008.
Police BMW X5, with active visual warnings showing, escorts riders on the Tour of Britain

A police car is a motor vehicle used by police. It is used to assist with their duties in patrolling and responding to incidents. Typical uses of a police car include transportation for officers to reach the scene of an incident quickly. Police cars are also used to transport suspects, or to patrol an area. Police cars usually marked[a] to identify them. This is a high visibility deterrent to crime. Some police cars are adapted for certain functions such as traffic control, to transport police dogs or bomb disposal.

History[change | change source]

In the United Kingdom in the early 1900s, police vehicles were first used to chase speeding motorists. This had very poor results until police schools were opened to teach officers how to use their vehicles properly.[2] In 1910 the first police car in the US was used in Akron, Ohio.[3] By 1920 police cars were in wide use in the US. It was noticed that patrol cars allowed police to respond faster. It also allowed an officer to cover a wider area.[3] By the 1960s most major cities had shifted away from foot patrols altogether in favor of police cars. But studies proved a mix of foot officers and police vehicles worked best.

Pursuit[change | change source]

Police cars are often identified with high speed pursuits of fleeing motorists. The offense may have been anything from a traffic violation to a major felony. Suspects often attempt to lose law enforcement by driving away, sometimes at high speed. From 1990 to 2005, 136 people were killed in the US in high speed pursuits by police.[4] Despite controversy as to whether high speed chases are necessary police continue to work on the problem using technology and new techniques. One technique is the 'take out'.[5] A take out is a technique used to cause the fleeing vehicle to lose control and be turned sideways by the police vehicle.[5]

Other names[change | change source]

Terms for police cars include (police) cruiser, squad car, area car and patrol car. In some places, a police car may also be informally known as a cop car, a 'Black and white', a 'Cherry top', a 'gumball machine', a 'jam sandwich' or 'panda car'. Depending on the configuration of the emergency lights and livery, a police car may be considered a marked or unmarked unit.

Notes[change | change source]

  1. Police cars are 'marked' with symbols or words (like 'Police') so the public can easily identify them.[1]

References[change | change source]

  1. Chris Oxlade, Emergency Vehicles (Chicago, Ill. : Heinemann Library, 2008), p. 12
  2. Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Transport Committee, Road Policing and Technology: Getting the Right Balance; Tenth Report of Session 2005-06 (London: Stationery Office, 2006), p. 29
  3. 3.0 3.1 John Dempsey; Linda Forst, An Introduction to Policing (Australia; Clifton Park, NY: Delmar Cengage Learning, 2009), p. 19
  4. The Critical Criminology Companion, eds. Thalia Anthony; Chris Cunneen (Leichhardt, N.S.W.: Hawkins Press, 2008), p. 107
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bob Bondurant; Edwin J. Sanow, Bob Bondurant on Police and Pursuit Driving (Osceola, WI: MBI Publishing Co., 2000), p. 107