Once upon a time, police departments were content to equip their officers with patrol cars derived from family sedans. The Ford Crown Victoria was the top seller for many years. The first police patrol car was an electric wagon that protected the streets of Akron, Ohio in the late 1800s. Interesting how things come full circle: many 21st-century police departments-including Denver and Los Angeles--are now using modified Tesla S electric vehicles to patrol their streets and highways.
Some fun facts about police cars:
Motorcycles were used before cars. The change to cars came about because the bad guys were using cars.
The first Chevrolet Camaro police car was owned by the Azusa, California PD.
A double-decker bus was used as a police bus for a time by the Belchertown, Massachusetts Police Department.
In Tulsa, Oklahoma, a Cadillac Escalade police car with a sign on the back that reads “This used to be a drug dealer’s car. Now it’s ours.
Today, the top-selling vehicle for American police is another Ford: the SUV version of that company’s Police Interceptor (PI) Utility, a modified Explorer that as of mid-2017 was responsible for more than 50 percent of the market for cop cars.
This is not your typical soccer mom’s Explorer. While the civilian version with an available 3.5L engine has a top speed of around 120 mph, while the PI version ups that to 148. Both vehicles share an aluminum hood, magnesium seat frame and standard collision protection, such as airbags and crumple zones. But the PI utility also comes with optional Level III side panels that can stop high-caliber bullets and shotgun shells. Ratchet that up a notch to Level IV and the PI will withstand assault from armor-piercing rounds.
So the next time you are unlucky enough to see those flashing lights in your rearview mirror, it’s a good idea to remember that the car behind you is way more likely to be faster, tougher and definitely able to catch you if you decide to run. It’s best to pull license, registration and proof insurance and face the music.