Police vehicles in the United States and Canada

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A Ford Police Interceptor Utility police car in service with the San Diego Harbor Police Department San Diego Harbor Police Ford Interceptor (23943876022).jpg
A Ford Police Interceptor Utility police car in service with the San Diego Harbor Police Department
A Chevrolet Suburban in service with the Toronto Police Service Emergency Task Force TPS ETF SUV.jpg
A Chevrolet Suburban in service with the Toronto Police Service Emergency Task Force
A Communications Division Command Post vehicle in service with the New York City Police Department. NYPD Comms Command Unit.JPG
A Communications Division Command Post vehicle in service with the New York City Police Department.

Police vehicles in the United States and Canada are produced by several manufacturers and are available in three broad vehicle types: Police Pursuit Vehicles (PPV), Special Service Vehicles (SSV), and Special Service Package (SSP).


Police Pursuit Vehicles are the most common police cars. They are equipped to handle the vast majority of tasks, including pursuit and high-speed response calls. Special Service Vehicles and Special Service Package are specialized vehicles, such as sport-utility vehicles and sports cars. They are generally heavier-duty and may come with specialized option packages for specific tasks, but are typically not recommended by the manufacturer for use as pursuit vehicles.


The first police car was a wagon run by electricity on the streets of Akron, Ohio in 1899. [1] Since the 1920s, the New York City Police Department has employed a fleet of Radio Motor Patrol vehicles to aid in its fight against crime within the city.

Ford's introduction of the flathead V-8 in its Model 18 in 1932––the first low-priced, mass-marketed car with a V8 engine––proved popular amongst police departments and led to strong brand loyalty. In turn, this gave the company a market-capturing edge that lasted until 1968. In the 1940s and 1950s, the "Big Three" (Ford, General Motors, and Chrysler) began to offer specialized police packages with severe duty parts. Foremost amongst these was the Ford package of 1950, which utilized the larger and more powerful Mercury engine in the smaller, lighter Ford. This ended the practice of some state police buying larger and more powerful, but higher-priced models including Buicks, Hudsons, and Chryslers. In 1969, Plymouth took first place in the police market, with Chrysler's 440 cu. in. V8s, Torqueflite transmissions, and torsion bar suspensions giving them a compelling advantage. Chrysler held this lead until the 1970s energy crisis drove buyers to smaller cars, and Chrysler subsequently discontinued their rear-drive platform after the 1989 model year. [2]

In the United States and Canada, police departments have historically used standard-size, low-price line sedans since the days of the Ford Model A, although many police departments switched to intermediates––such as the Plymouth Satellite, Ford Torino, and AMC Matador––in the 1960s and 1970s. Some state highway patrols (including those of California and Missouri) adopted pony cars, such as the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Camaro, and AMC Javelin for use as high-speed pursuit vehicles. The Ford LTD, Plymouth Gran Fury, and Chevrolet Caprice were re-adopted as standard when the models were downsized in the late 1970s.

Since the termination of the North American Chevrolet Caprice model in 1996 (though it would subsequently return in 2010 for exclusive law enforcement use), the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor replaced it as the standard patrol car, however, most Ford Crown Victorias have now been phased out. In an attempt to better combat the threat of rear-end impacts that highway patrol vehicles face when stopped on the shoulder, new models can be optionally equipped with a fire suppression system. Other models such as the Chevrolet Impala (8th and 9th generations), Chevrolet Tahoe and Dodge Charger also gained a percentage of the market. In September 2011, however, Ford discontinued the Crown Victoria in favor of the 6th-generation Taurus. This has helped Dodge reclaim leadership in the market with the Dodge Charger Pursuit, as of 2012.

Non-Crown Victoria police vehicles may be bought to diversify a police department's fleet in order to better minimize disruption should a recall occur. [3]

Despite some (primarily Canadian) jurisdictions electing to use front-wheel-drive sedans with smaller engines––mainly the Chevrolet Impala, the current iteration of which being a V6––the rear-wheel-drive V8 configuration is still widely preferred, due in part to its consistency with pursuit driver training, as well as generally greater reliability. Furthermore, trials with FWD vehicles such as the Taurus and Impala have proven problematic in terms of maintenance costs. [4] [5] [6] In 1994, for example, a Ford spokeswoman noted that "It is certainly true that any front-wheel-drive car would be more expensive and difficult to maintain if you subjected it to the kind of hard use they get in police departments." [7]

Current vehicles

Subject to federal, state, provincial and local laws, any vehicle, appropriately modified, can be used as a police vehicle, but the most common are those designed or modified by manufacturers as police or special service vehicles. Sport Utility Vehicles have become increasingly popular in police fleets in Canada and the United States. Benefits often cited include extra room for equipment and better outward visibility due to the higher seating position compared with sedans. [8] The following model year 2019 and 2020 vehicles (in various drivetrain configurations) were submitted by manufacturers for the 2019 evaluation by the Michigan State Police and the U.S. National Institute of Justice: [9]

The Ford Taurus-based Police Interceptor Sedan was discontinued at the end of the 2019 model year, [11] and was not included in the 2019 Michigan State Police and U.S. National Institute of Justice evaluation.


An Milwaukee Police Department Ford Explorer supervisor vehicle Milwaukee Police Department (4609362450).jpg
An Milwaukee Police Department Ford Explorer supervisor vehicle
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police Toyota Prius school liaison car in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. RCMP car in Ottawa crop.jpg
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police Toyota Prius school liaison car in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

North American police cars were once noted for being painted black and white, But not just limited to black and white vehicles, with the car doors and roof painted white, while the trunk, hood, front fenders and rear quarter panels were painted black. The fleet vehicles that were used typically came painted in a single color, most commonly white or black, from the factory and were used as such. The contrasting black or white color was added to make the vehicle stand out from civilian vehicles. In 2007, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) began converting its fleet back to a black-and-white scheme after decades of using other colors and varieties of paint jobs. The U.S. Department of Homeland Security recommends, but does not require, that local law enforcement agencies employ a uniform black and white vehicle color scheme for ease of visual identification nationwide. [12]

Beginning in the 1970s, police vehicle markings have become increasingly stylistic, with the widespread use of computer-graphics and vinyl striping. While black and white designs are still in use in many jurisdictions, cars may range from being all white to completely black. Blues and greens of various hues are also frequently used. Brown, beiges, and tans are favored by rural police and sheriff's offices.

Official markings also vary by jurisdiction. The side doors and sometimes the hood of a marked police car usually bear the agency's badge or the city seal, often in reflective finish. Markings such as emergency telephone numbers, generic anti-drug or anti-crime messages, or even website URLs are also common. Some agencies also have identification numbers printed on the roofs of patrol cars for tracking from aircraft, or to distinguish specialized units, such as K-9 units or supervisors.

Currently, in the United States and Canada, the paint scheme for each fleet is determined either by the individual agency or by uniform state legislation as in Minnesota [13] and Ohio. [14] Usually, state laws exist that establish standards for police vehicle markings, and proscribe civilian vehicles from using certain markings or paint schemes as is the case in California. [15]

Today, most fleet markings on patrol vehicles are created from reflective vinyl with an adhesive backing that is applied in a peel-and-stick manner. Colors chosen to represent the department's identity are typically chosen by the individual department, although, as noted above, some states have specific guidelines for color schemes and markings. Vinyl used to produce fleet markings comes in large rolls that are fed through a plotter (cutter) or large-format printer/cutter. The designs are created in specialized computer software and sent to the machines via cable link for production. Once the design is cut into the vinyl, the excess vinyl on the sheet is removed in a process called "weeding". Finally, a paper pre-mask is applied to the top of the vinyl design to allow easy application of multiple letters and shapes at one time.

Whatcom County Sheriff's Office Stealth Dodge Charger Whatcom County Sheriff's Office- Stealth Dodge Charger (17248380012).jpg
Whatcom County Sheriff's Office Stealth Dodge Charger

Many enforcement agencies now use some "ghost cars" or "stealth cars" with smooth tops and minimal graphics for traffic enforcement. [16] These vehicles have markings that are visible only at certain angles, such as from the rear or sides, making these cars appear unmarked when viewed from the front. [17] These vehicles may meet the letter of the law as marked patrol vehicles, but are not as easily identifiable at a distance as a regular marked police vehicle. For public safety reasons, some jurisdictions do not allow officers in unmarked cars to pull over drivers. [18] The graphics on a ghost car, minimal though they may be, are deemed sufficient in some jurisdictions to identify the vehicle as a legitimate police vehicle. Depending on the jurisdiction, such vehicles may or may not be permitted to engage in pursuits.

Models by manufacturer

American Motors Corporation


Dodge Charger of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia Dodge Charger of the Metropolitan Police Department.jpg
Dodge Charger of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia

Chrysler refers to its police models as the "Pursuit" or "SSV".

Ford Motor Company

Pittsburgh Police Ford Police Interceptor Utility Pittsburgh Police Ford Police Interceptor Utility.jpg
Pittsburgh Police Ford Police Interceptor Utility

General Motors

2006-2009 Chevrolet Impala SPVM car '06-'09 Chevrolet Impala Montreal Police (Orange Julep).jpg
2006–2009 Chevrolet Impala SPVM car
New York City Police Department Disorder Control Unit Hummer Soundweapon1.jpg
New York City Police Department Disorder Control Unit Hummer







Other police vehicles

2010 Dodge Challenger R/T used by Deputies in Broward County, Florida Broward County FL Sheriff Challenger L.jpg
2010 Dodge Challenger R/T used by Deputies in Broward County, Florida
The Deputies' mobile "office" in the Challenger Broward County FL Sheriff Challenger I.jpg
The Deputies' mobile "office" in the Challenger

Police departments also use alternative police vehicles.





British Columbia


A Berkeley Police Department Crown Vic Berkeley Police Department Cruiser.jpg
A Berkeley Police Department Crown Vic




A Palm Beach County Sheriff vehicle in Florida Palm Beach County Sheriff vehicle.jpg
A Palm Beach County Sheriff vehicle in Florida




A "New Edge" Mach 1 Ford Mustang being used as a police car by the Honolulu Police Department. HPDMach1.jpg
A "New Edge" Mach 1 Ford Mustang being used as a police car by the Honolulu Police Department.










Michigan State Police Vehicle.jpg





Newfoundland And Labrador

New Hampshire

New Jersey

The New Jersey state police uses marked and unmarked ford explorers as well as Crown Victorias, and police editions of Chevrolet Impalas and chevy tahoes

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

North Dakota Highway Patrol has a fleet of ford explorer and taurus, and dodge chargers

Nova Scotia



Toronto Police Crown Vics at a high-risk incident Toronto police on scene.jpg
Toronto Police Crown Vics at a high-risk incident




Prince Edward Island

Puerto Rico


A Montreal Police pickup SVPM vehicle.jpg
A Montreal Police pickup


South Carolina








A number of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) programs in local police departments have some notable vehicles marked as police cars to promote the program. The D.A.R.E. cars appear at schools and in parades. Typically these cars are high-end or performance cars that have been seized in a drug raid. They are used to send the message that drug dealers forfeit all their glamorous trappings when they get caught. Cars include the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang, and Humvee.


Ford ceased production of the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor in 2011. The model was replaced by both the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan and the Ford Police Interceptor Utility. [50] On March 12, 2010, a prototype Ford Police Interceptor Sedan based on the sixth-generation Taurus's platform was demonstrated at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway; Ford assured law enforcement agencies that it would be in production when the last Crown Victorias were built in September 2011. [51] The car was also displayed to fleet managers from Canada and the United States at the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) exposition in Detroit in April. [52] Months after the Sedan was unveiled, a prototype Ford Police Interceptor Utility based on the fifth generation Ford Explorer was unveiled at Ford's Chicago plant in front of its workforce by the then VP of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service Ken Czubay. The production of the Police Interceptor Sedan began in 2012 as a 2013 model along with the Utility counterpart.

The Dodge Charger Pursuit was first introduced as an LX body in 2006. In 2011, as an LD body, numerous changes were made to resolve a number of teething issues in previous cars. The 3.6 V-6 engine provides performance equal to or better than the P7B Crown Victoria, with a much better fuel economy. The 5.7 Hemi cars set record after record during yearly testing with the Michigan State Police. In late 2014, Dodge surpassed many of their own records with the new All-Wheel-Drive Pursuit. The AWD version became the only large Chrysler passenger sedan with AWD and the V8. By mid-2016, over 40% of all new Charger Pursuits were AWD.

Prior to the release of the AWD Dodge, Ford held 60% of the police market. In 2015, and especially 2016 (after a price reduction), Dodge gained some ground on Ford, largely at the expense of the Taurus.

The Mobile precinct station in both the models of a 26' trailer and AM General 6X6 military surplus vehicle have been inventoried in specific police departments within the United States. [53] [54]

See also

Related Research Articles

Ford Crown Victoria Motor vehicle

The Ford Crown Victoria is a full-size sedan that was marketed and manufactured by Ford. The successor to the Ford LTD Crown Victoria, two generations of the model line were produced from the 1992 to 2012 model years. The Ford counterpart of the Mercury Grand Marquis, the Crown Victoria was the largest sedan marketed by Ford in North America, slotted above the Ford Taurus. The Crown Victoria Police Interceptor (1992–2011) was marketed specifically for law-enforcement use; a long-wheelbase Crown Victoria sedan (2002–2011) was marketed primarily for taxi cab fleets.

Chevrolet Caprice Motor vehicle

The Chevrolet Caprice is a full-sized automobile produced by Chevrolet in North America for the 1965 to 1996 model years. Full-size Chevrolet sales peaked in 1965 with over a million sold. It was the most popular American car in the sixties and early seventies, which, during its lifetime, included the Biscayne, Bel Air, and Impala.

Full-size car Vehicle size class

Full-size car—also known as large car—is a vehicle size class which originated in the United States and is used for cars larger than mid-size cars, it is the largest size class for cars. In Europe, it is known as F-segment.

Connecticut State Police

The Connecticut State Police (CSP) is a division of the Connecticut Department of Emergency Services and Public Protection responsible for traffic regulation and law enforcement across the state of Connecticut, especially in areas not served by local police departments. The CSP currently has 940 troopers as of October 8, 2020 and is headquartered in Middletown, Connecticut. It is responsible for protecting the Governor of Connecticut, Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut, and their families.

9C1 is a code used by Chevrolet, in reference to a vehicle intended for use as a police car. Considered a fleet vehicle by General Motors, the 9C1 package is considered a Special Equipment Options (SEO) code, as opposed to a Regular Production Order (RPO) code. Both groups of options are found on the production code sticker.

Ottawa Police Service Police agency of Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

The Ottawa Police Service (OPS) is a municipal police force in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. The OPS serves an area of 2,796 square kilometres and 943,243 people alongside a considerable number of other police forces.

Fort Worth Police Department

The Fort Worth Police Department (FWPD) is the police department of Fort Worth, Texas, United States. Neil Noakes is the Chief of Police.

Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor Law enforcement sedan vehicle, manufactured 1992–2011

The Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor is a four-door, body-on-frame sedan that was manufactured by Ford from 1992 to 2011. It is the law-enforcement version of the Ford Crown Victoria.

South Carolina Highway Patrol

The South Carolina Highway Patrol is the highway patrol agency for South Carolina, which has jurisdiction anywhere in the state except for federal or military installations. The Highway Patrol was created in 1930 and is an organization with a rank structure similar to the armed forces. The mission of the South Carolina Highway Patrol includes enforcing the rules and regulations in order to ensure road way safety and reducing crime as outlined by South Carolina law. The Highway Patrol is the largest division of the South Carolina Department of Public Safety and its headquarters is located in Blythewood. This department also includes the South Carolina State Transport Police Division, and the South Carolina Bureau of Protective Services.

Louisiana State Police

The Louisiana State Police is the state police agency of Louisiana, which has jurisdiction anywhere in the state, headquartered in Baton Rouge. It falls under the authority of the Louisiana Department of Public Safety & Corrections. It is officially known in that organization as the Office of State Police.

Virginia State Police

The Virginia State Police, officially the Virginia Department of State Police, conceived in 1919 and established in 1932, is the state police force for the U.S. state of Virginia. The agency originated out of the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles as an inspector and enforcer of highway laws. It is currently one of fourteen agencies within the Cabinet Secretariat of Public Safety, under the leadership of Secretary Brian Moran. On January 18, 2018, Gary T. Settle was sworn in as Superintendent of the Virginia State Police. Colonel Settle replaced retiring Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, who had served since 2003.

Kentucky State Police

The Kentucky State Police (KSP) is a department of the Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet, and the official State Police force of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, responsible for statewide law enforcement. The department was founded in 1948 and replaced the Kentucky Highway Patrol. The department's sworn personnel hold the title State Trooper and are addressed as Trooper and its nickname is The Thin Gray Line.

Nassau County Police Department Law enforcement agency of Nassau County, New York, US

The Nassau County Police Department is the law enforcement agency of Nassau County, New York.

New Hampshire State Police State Police of New Hampshire

The New Hampshire State Police is a state police agency within the Department of Safety of the U.S. state of New Hampshire. Police employees of the State Police are ex officio constables and have the primary role of patrolling the state highways, enforcing the laws and regulations of the highway and motor vehicles, providing law enforcement for municipalities with no or part time coverage, and regulations relating to the transportation of hazardous materials. The jurisdiction of the State Police is generally throughout the state of New Hampshire.

Black and white (police vehicle)

Black and white is an American slang term for a police car that is painted in large panels of black and white, or generally any "marked" police car. Historically, this scheme is much favoured by North American police forces because it allows the unambiguous recognition of patrol units from a significant distance. However, as the colour scheme is not standardised, each police agency in Canada, Mexico, and the U.S. can choose their own colour scheme.

This is a list of resources of the Los Angeles Police Department.

City of Charleston Police Department

The City of Charleston Police Department (CPD) is the official police force of Charleston, South Carolina. It is South Carolina's largest police department, besides the state police, in terms of manpower, with 458 sworn officers, 137 civilian personnel and numerous reserve officers and non-sworn volunteers. In July, 2011, the department was re-accredited through 2014 with the Accreditation with Excellence Award by the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies (CALEA). Replacing the former "Flagship Award," the Accreditation with Excellence Award is the highest single-period accreditation award available. The department also received the Meritorious Accreditation Award in 2011, representing at least 15 continuous years of CALEA accreditation.

The Maryland-National Capital Park Police (MNCPP) is the law enforcement branch of the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (MNCPPC) and has two divisions, one in Prince George's County and one in Montgomery County in Maryland. The MNCPP in Prince George's County is also known as "Maryland Park Police" or "Maryland Park." The MNCPP in Montgomery County is known as "The Montgomery County Park Police"

Pointe Coupee Parish Sheriffs Office

The Pointe Coupee Sheriff's Office is the chief law enforcement agency in Pointe Coupee Parish, Louisiana. The sheriff's office is responsible for routine law enforcement patrols in the parish. There are several divisions besides the road patrol. These include the parish prison, a water patrol, a mounted horse patrol, an aviation unit, a criminal investigations division, and bailiffs for the courthouse. This department employs over 100 full-time deputies, as well as several part-time deputies. The department's main office is located in the parish courthouse in New Roads, Louisiana. It patrols an area of 591 square miles (1,530 km2), with a population of approximately 22,763.

Titusville Police Department

The Titusville Police Department (TPD) is the police force with the primary responsibility of public safety and the enforcement of state laws and county/municipal ordinances in the city of Titusville, Florida. In 2018, the department consisted of 137 full-time personnel and 17 part-time personnel. Full-time personnel includes sworn members, 911 dispatchers, code enforcement, and non-sworn civilians. The department also contained part-time personnel, like school crossing guards or record clerks.


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