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Police Cars - What's Special About Them?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Emergency Services Vehicles

Police Cars - What's Special About Them?

Mervyn Rees
18 August 2008


They move fast, they have flashing lights on the roof, and they have sirens that can be heard a long way off. But surely that isn't all that's special about police cars?

There's no standard design for these extremely vital and increasingly sophisticated vehicles, and no manufacturer can ever claim to have designed a police car model from scratch. They're invariably refitted standard models, usually modified to the specifications of the particular force that orders them.

First of all, apart from needing them to go exceedingly fast, many police forces require that a full size spare tire be standard issue on their vehicles. Most consumer models have little or no room for a full size spare, opting instead to offer their customers more storage space and a much smaller temporary spare. This means many models are already ruled out at this early stage.

Next is the considerable problem of 'up fitting', meaning any conversion of the standard vehicle in order for it to conform to operational requirements. The growing complexity of police dashboard computer systems, satellite radio, and even the siren, requires an ergonomic design principle allowing maximum space allocation and functionality, not to mention accommodating the sheer weight of all that technology. Many police models now come with steering column transmission, which means a radical reconstruction from a standard floor model transmission, and in some countries there's the need for a gun rack to consider, too.

While it's obvious we can't do without high-speed police cars, we can only hope that, for the sake of the environment, battery powered vehicles that are capable of moving at high speeds over long periods aren't too far into the future.

After all, any standard petrol driven vehicle moving at 80+ mph isn't exactly environmentally friendly

VOC = Volatile organic compounds VOC Emission Rates by Speed

Of course, we could just ban high-speed police cars, but would free-for-all amongst gun toting drunks caught up in bar room brawls be any better? Is anarchy environmentally friendly? No, but perhaps we could put real emphasis on manufacturers to produce more environmentally friendly vehicles. At least that way the speeders and the police who chase them will be doing less damage to the air we all share.

The future of transportation on this planet will undoubtedly be 'green'. It really is time that major vehicle manufacturers start to realize that the continued prosperity of their companies will not be in mindlessly producing larger vehicles that are dependent upon fossil fuels, but in environmentally sound and ethical vehicles which are not harmful to the Earth.

It may sound like wild eyed dreaming, but the facts are that alternative fuel vehicles continue to see growing sales trends, and what was once passed off as a fad, is seeing wide acceptance among suburban consumers concerned about the environment they're passing on to their children.


Mervyn Rees - The author of, 'The Secrets of Biodiesel'. WhyBiodiesel. An active young 72 year old with a lifetime of experience to share, being a Fellow of Institute Motoring Industry, built his own Dragonfly Roadsters before retiring as a Motor Vehicle Manufacturer. Having tried retiring twice and given up, he has now created an additional website www.MervTech.com to share his many interests with other likeminded people.



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