Civilian cop cars?

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Hi Eric,

I live in South NJ. I’ve noticed the police in my county and adjoining counties have begun driving police cars that are unmarked (e.g. no rooftop sirens, no police paint). They look like civilian cars. Most I’ve seen are black suv’s but I’ve also seen white cars too. Only reason I know they are cops is because of the dashboard lights. I find this rather disturbing and it seems to be a growing trend sadly. I’m not sure why this is but I find it disturbing.

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  18 comments for “Civilian cop cars?

  1. March 15, 2013 at 10:31 am

    What you’re probably seeing are cops driving the new Taurus and Explorer – which Ford is hard-selling to police all around the country now that the Vic is history.

    The Taurus and Explorer cop vehicles stand out less obviously than the Vic – which was a car driven almost exclusively by cops or old people and so easy to spot.

    There is also a trend toward very low profile cop lights – marked and unmarked cruisers.

    I recommend a good radar detector and a vigilant eye. Know your cop, etc.

    • Ferret
      March 15, 2013 at 9:38 pm

      A while back (about a year or so), I saw a conga line of white Impalas heading through an intersection where I was sitting at the red light. Other than the plain white paint and illegal-as-hell dark tint which already screamed “Cops!”, there was no other indication. That is, until each one was passing directly in front of me when the Sheriff’s Department paint showed up plain as day.

      I had never heard of this before, but apparently, those are referred to as “ghost cars”, and are becoming more common in areas that focus on revenue extraction from drivers. (such as down heah in de south!)

      My first thought was to wonder just how much we paid for those special cars.

      • March 16, 2013 at 3:09 am

        Dear Ferret,

        “I saw a conga line of white Impalas heading through an intersection where I was sitting at the red light.”

        That must have been a sight!

        A scene straight out of “Jumanji.”

      • March 16, 2013 at 10:16 am

        “My first thought was to wonder just how much we paid for those special cars.”

        A lot.

        And now that the fairly simple Vic is history, it will be a lot more.

        The new Cop Taurus SHO is a $35k unit – and I have no doubt the maintenance costs for this AWD/twin-turbo car will be orders of magnitude higher than they were for the RWD/V-8 Vic.

  2. mithrandir
    March 15, 2013 at 10:37 am

    I think it is easier to follow the money.

    The lack of visible light bars and other marking makes it easier for the LEO to find more revenue (usually by sneaking up on unsuspecting motorists).

    I usually try to be aware of vehicles that are used by LE and be more cautious around them. (in my area it is Crown Vic, Charger and SUV.)

    • DownshiftFast5to1
      March 15, 2013 at 1:06 pm

      In my experience, the unmarked car is often the supervisor deciding who is to be targeted by the juniors in the marked car, a.k.a. the thugscrum.

      This is just another example of why a person should consider All cars to be full of cops. It’s much easier to navigate that way. YMMV.

      • March 15, 2013 at 1:14 pm

        In general:

        Coupes are rarely cop cars.
        Imports are almost never cop cars.
        Luxury cars are almost never cop cars.
        Cars older than 10 years are virtually never cop cars.
        Compact cars are rarely, if ever cop cars.
        “Crossovers” are not often used by cops.

        What you should always be careful of are American-brand mid-sized and full-sized sedans and (to a lesser extent) medium and full-sized SUVs.

        A list of the major threats:

        * Dodge CHarger.
        * Jeep Grand Cherokee.
        * Ford Crown Vic, Taurus and Explorer.
        * Chevy Malibu and Impala; Chevy Tahoe.

        • DownshiftFast5to1
          March 16, 2013 at 3:36 am

          Perfect observation, eric. How-ever; my very first encounter with a cop as a licensed sixteen year old is my guide for saying, “every car is a cop”.

          I found myself in heavy big-city traffic for the first time while driving a thoroughly rusted out convertible and realized I had no business holding onto a large fountain pop. With no place to set the drink I did the only thing I could think of to drive safely; I did a right hand Hail Mary and pitched the drink onto the side of the road.

          An off duty cop saw me while he was driving slightly to my right in his beat up 4×4.

          He leaned out his window and yelled, “Pull over!” in that mean adult voice we all know.

          All I knew was: some jerk wanted to fight me or something.

          I kept going and ignored him. That totally pissed him off and he screamed the command again, plus a few other choice words.

          I just kept going. In fact, I sped up. I knew I could lose his ass as I was driving a hot rod.

          He tried to match my speed.

          Just as I was about to put the pedal to the metal he started pointing at his shoulder as if it meant something.

          On his shoulder was the star of “authority”.

          After I realized what he was, I pulled over.

          He was so hot it was silly. [Today's version ends in tazers and such, but this was "in the day".]

          I guess I didn’t look sixteen? So he acted all huff and puff when he demanded to see my drivers license. He was completely taken off guard when I produced one.

          In the most serious of tone, he asked me why I didn’t pull over, he asked in a way that suggested No answer would be good enough.

          I flat out told him, “I thought you were some jerk that just wanted to beat me up.”

          The look on his face was priceless as he realized that’s exactly how he came across. He’d become one of the bad guys, and he knew it!

          None the less, he huffed one last puff and demanded I go back and pick up the empty container.

          He drove off in a hurry as if late for something and knowing what an ass he’d been. I walked towards the cup until he was gone, then I turned around, got back in my car and drove off.

          Minor shit, I know, but from then on I saw every car as a cop and it has done me well.

          I have more stories like that, but so does just about everyone else who tests the lines and boundaries enclosed about them. YMMV.

          The odd thing was, looking back on it, the whole time we “talked” on the side on the road, I felt like we were equals even though he could have easily killed me,… that’s all gone now.

          We’re surrounded.

          • March 16, 2013 at 3:44 am

            Dear Downshift,

            I flat out told him, “I thought you were some jerk that just wanted to beat me up.”

            How ironic.

            You were right.

            He was.

        • March 16, 2013 at 3:50 am

          Dear Eric,

          One option might be to get a Dodge Charger and slap a black and blue “Thin Blue Line” sticker on the bumper.

          The pigs will think it’s the personal vehicle of a fellow pig and leave you alone.

          Or not.

          • March 16, 2013 at 3:55 am

            Also, it might prevent potential carjackers from targeting your car.

            Just a thought.

            On the other hand of course, once the SHTF, it might make you a Ceausescu type target!

          • BrentP
            March 16, 2013 at 4:06 am

            Around here the cop charities give out stickers for donations…. It is implied that a cop will give a driver displaying such a sticker a break….

            I will not deface my cars with stickers of things I like so I won’t be putting cop stickers on them. I also won’t be contributing to a cop charity.

          • March 16, 2013 at 5:15 am

            Dear Brent,

            Agree. Wouldn’t contribute even one thin dime to a cop charity just to get one. I’d just buy one online, or make one using colored vinyl.

            As I see it, it wouldn’t be “sucking up.” It would be stealth. It would be camouflage. It would be fighting fire with fire.

            Even if it was eventually exposed and discredited, it could still be a good thing. It could devalue the ploy for the real clovers/sheeple who display them in earnest.

            Wouldn’t necessarily do it. Just brainstorming.

  3. Charles
    March 15, 2013 at 1:44 pm

    Here in Europe they seem to be BMW’s but sometimes the odd Toyota too.

  4. Eric_G
    March 16, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    Back in the 55MPH days there were stories of some departments used impounded drug cars for catching speeders.

    The Glenwood Springs, CO police department has several black Explorers with black reflective logos, and all the lights are mounted inside. Actually easy to spot because they are the only SUVs in the area without a luggage rack. The older Explorers have thin light rails that look at first glance like a luggage rack. Both designs watch for speeders (25Mph all through town, despite plenty of stop lights with “walk/don’t walk” pedestrian crossings) by taking up an unmetered parking spot and waiting. Getting the skiers on the way to Aspen (getting off the 75Mph highway) must be like shooting fish in a barrel.

  5. ЯΞ√ΩLUT↑☼N
    March 17, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    In Oz we’ve had unmarked cars for decades. There’s only one reason for them – and it’s NOT for fighting actual crime.

    They’ve even used Subaru Evo’s when they first came out. Simply to catch speeders faster. So now we’ve got someone doing just 10k over the limit and another chasing in excess of 180 to try and justify their existence by making the roads “safe”? Bah!

    There’s good reason to never pull over for an unmarked car, because some contain actual crooks pretending to be officers. It’s not hard to get a couple of 12V strobe lights and use red and blue coloured cellophane over them. Likewise shoulder patches can be bought just about anywhere that look legit.

    We had an interesting case here setting a precedent in the Supreme Court a couple of years ago (video included):

    http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/victoria/its-ok-to-do-a-runner-judge/story-fn7x8me2-1226206685079

    This should also apply to automotive stops. If you’re NOT currently under arrest, you don’t have to speak to the cops, or stop for them.

  6. liberranter
    March 23, 2013 at 2:56 pm

    I wonder: does anyone manufacture a pig sticker that you can slap on an unmarked car?

  7. Rob
    June 10, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    Now and then I see white Homeland Security Ford Explorers and Chevy Tahoes around where I live. I always give them dirty looks.

    If they’re not doing actual cop work, why can’t these gov’t minions tool around in Fiestas?

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