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Thread: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    Like innocent minnows swimming past the jaws of a lurking snapping turtle, many drivers don't realize the unobtrusive sedan in the next lane is Johhny law - until it's to late. But if you spot the cop before he spots you, you can sometimes save yourself a ticket.

    Luckily, In the United States, it's still relatively easy to pick out an occifer of the law - or at least, to develop "mental radar" for certain types of vehicles they tend to drive - and to develop the instinct of quickly noticing the little things that suggest the presence of a cop as definitively as the smell of bacon in the morning.

    Currently, there are a handful of vehicles favored by police departments all over the United States. They are: the Ford Crown Victoria, Chevy Impala (and the smaller Malibu) and, lately, the Dodge Charger. Some departments also use SUVs like the Chevy Tahoe and Trailblazer, but these are less common.

    The Crown Vic is especially easy to spot because other than old folks, few people besides cops drive them. It is a full-size "boat" of the type that used to be commonplace but which today no one makes - other than Ford.

    If you see one, be cautious - and wary. Don't pass it - and throttle back on your speed until you can make a positive ID. If it's up ahead or in a pack of cars, gradually work your way close enough to get a good look. Unmarked Crown Vic police cruisers are usually (but not always) primary colors - navy blue is a favorite - but some departments are sneaky and operate Vics painted in bright metallics, too.

    Check the driver's side window area; you're looking for an external spotlight. If it's there, it's almost certainly a cop (or at the least, an ex cop car). Slow down and gradually back away. Another clue to look for is on the package tray area behind the rear seats. If it's a police vehicle, there will often be "wig wag" flasher lights that he'll turn on when it's time to issue a piece of "payin' paper." If you see several small antennas mounted on the trunk or roof, that is another clue it's not just another senior citizen.

    Police Vics (and other LE vehicles) also tend to be free of retirement home gewgaws such as padded vinyl roofs, lots of chrome trim - or vanity plates/bumper stickers of any sort. They typical police Vic/LE vehicle will be "smooth and clean," free of exterior clutter (other than the spotlight and those small antennas). Mechanically inclined observers can also spot a unmarked Vic by the presence of "police pursuit" equipment such as wide tires (with cheap-looking "dog dish" chrome hubcaps rather than pricey alloy wheels) dual outlet exhaust tips and a thick anti-sway bar behind the axle. Late model Ford Crown Vics ordered for police service often actually have a small badge on the trunk lid that says "Police Interceptor." These models are not available to civilians, incidentally - so if you come across one, it's absolutely a Johnny (or a retired Johnny's car.) But don't fear the Crown Vic's very similar twin, the Mercury Grand Marquis. This is a higher trim (read: more expensive) model that cash-strapped police departments rarely, if ever, use for police duty.

    The Chevy Impala and Malibu are similar to the Crown Vic in many ways. Though these are front-wheel-drive cars with V-6 rather than V-8 engines, they also tend to be driven by either older people - or traffic cops. The same visual cues apply, too. The cop car will have a spotlight, antennas, flasher lights and be free of "family clutter." If you see a soccer ball sticker on the trunk, political bumper sticker or personalized plate, it's no worries. One especially nice thing about the Impala is its very distinctive oversized round rear tail-lights. No other car on the market has anything like them - making them easy to pick out in a crowd and from a distance.

    The Charger is tougher to ID as a potential threat, because these are not geezermobiles. They're also fast (in V-8 equipped Hemi form). But the same general rules apply: Be suspicious (and careful) until you're sure it's not a cop. Look for wig-wag lights, antennas and spotlights.

    These four vehicles - the Crown Vic, Impala, Malibu and Charger - account for probably 80-95 percent of all marked and unmarked police vehicles in traffic enforcement service today. (Some departments still use the older Chevy Caprice; it is very much like the Vic - just rounder. People nicknamed it "Shamu" when it was still being built. However, the last Caprice rolled off the line back in 1996 - 12 years ago now. Few remain in service, so you don't need to worry about them as much as the Crown Vics - and especially, Chargers - you come across.)

    If you learn to be cautious around these cars - and adjust your driving accordingly - your chances of getting a ticket should drop considerably.

    Still, don't assume you'rein the clear just because there are no Crown Vics, Impalas, or Chargers in sight. Some departments have gotten cagier and deployed vehicles not geneally associated by most people with The Law. In addition to the Chevy Tahoes mentioned earlier, some departments also use Jeep Grand Cherokees. And a few lucky occifers get to play in late-model Pontiac GTOs - probably the most fearsome police interceptor since the old 440-powered Dodges and Chryslers of the '60s and '70s. And in summer, watch out for motorcycle cops. CHIPS is more than just a bad '70s TV show - and it's much, much harder to spot the LE Harley or Kawasaki hidden in the bushes up ahead.

    But if you're alert, know what to look for - and always keep your "radar" on - you can definitely cut the odds in your favor.


  2. #2
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    Good tips - but what you really want is a state law that forbids the use of unmarkeds for traffic ordinance enforcement.


  3. #3
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    Re: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    Posted this article up on the main site with pictures:




    http://www.ericpetersautos.com/home/...1&Itemid=10894

  4. #4
    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    Re: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    As mentioned before, In the great state of Oregon, The Staters have gone mostly to the Dodges, Dark or Navy Blue in color. The Lights on top are the low profile, near to the same color as the vehicle. They are very hard to spot as they are only a couple of inches above the roof line. Some of the County Mounties are using Ford F-150's or F-250's. Mostly used for off road or rescue type vehicles. I.D.ing these are very simple as the lighting is easily seen. Then we have the plain wrappers. I have seen all types of vehicles being used here. As the article mentioned, some of these cars are the Geezer Type. Antennas may look like cell phones, But most will have lights in the back window. I have seen some with the sneaky drop down type just by the passenger visor. And over here, they DO COME IN ALL COLORS.

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    Re: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    Our local police depts are now using BMW bikes. Local Harley dealer really got his blood pressure up when the dealer for BMW won that contract.

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    Senior Member misterdecibel's Avatar
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    Re: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    My state had a few Z-28s and Mustang GTs for pursuit vehicles. I say "had" because I don't know if they're still in service, it's been a while since I've seen one.

  7. #7
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Re: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    Quote Originally Posted by misterdecibel
    My state had a few Z-28s and Mustang GTs for pursuit vehicles. I say "had" because I don't know if they're still in service, it's been a while since I've seen one.
    We used to have Z28s but I think they are no longer in service - probably due to their age (2002 was the last year of production). I'm not sure about the current-year Mustangs. Va State Police had a Corvette for awhile, to.

  8. #8
    D_E_Davis
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    Re: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric
    We used to have Z28s but I think they are no longer in service - probably due to their age (2002 was the last year of production). I'm not sure about the current-year Mustangs. Va State Police had a Corvette for awhile, to.
    If you look carefully you'll find an exotic or two at many police agencies. The Border Patrol has a Z-28 here, painted in BP colors, and used for recrutment and PR purposes. The city of Parma, OH has (or had) both a Corvette and a Mustang with light bar and police colors.


  9. #9
    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    Re: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    In years passed, our state has used Mustangs, Camero's, A Ranchero or two, and yes I have seen a 'vette. Some of the cars are ex-drug runners. Talk about blending in. In some of the larger cities, local yokels will be using Segways, bicycles, and can you believe this, "GOLF CARS"!!! Oh well something my scooter can out run. Damn radios! :

  10. #10
    Senior Member grouch's Avatar
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    Re: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    Quote Originally Posted by J. ZIMM
    In years passed, our state has used Mustangs, Camero's, A Ranchero or two, and yes I have seen a 'vette. Some of the cars are ex-drug runners. Talk about blending in. In some of the larger cities, local yokels will be using Segways, bicycles, and can you believe this, "GOLF CARS"!!! Oh well something my scooter can out run. Damn radios! :

    The comedian Jeff Dunham does a bit with his dummy Walter (he's a ventriloquist) talking about the police on bicycles. "What are they gonna do? All right, pull over. CHING CHING. If they arrest somebody it's 'Alright, in the basket'".
    Honk if you love Jesus.

    Text if you want to meet him.

  11. #11
    Senior Member J. ZIMM's Avatar
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    Re: How to spot a cop - and avoid a piece of "payin' paper"!

    Ha, Thats funny. ;D

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