Insider Secrets About Police Cars That They'd Rather You Didn't Know

By Jake Schroeder
Povgpjolcjm7gs2f Suy9thr U0nfjjwhpunqzswhtn9up Qmlssy9npmac H Sk Tekk39sfrs6k1g0wauspqvle3dkcuzsqofjygitnozosndafbd4dywl0rdfwmpt6ybton Sy4jyoboq
Photo Courtesy: Pixabay

As law-abiding citizens, the closest way most of us will get to experiencing the inside of a police car is watching a scene from a movie or television show — and those don't tell us much. We see these vehicles everywhere, yet we know little about their secret gadgets and capabilities. They’re forbidden secret mystery boxes on wheels.

But now you don't have to commit a crime to find out what’s inside. Here are insider secrets the cops would rather you didn't know.

The GPS Tracker Gun

It sounds like a device straight out of a James Bond movie: The driver flicks a switch, and a front bumper-mounted housing shoots a device that attaches itself to the rear of the car it’s pursuing. That device is a remote GPS unit that can track a perp via a computer.

9gu2vhzvmhv5ker9t3hm5jxldix Mzbbsl36cgpxn8okuysu79kk8zxl Bbx6mzabuozlbdlnreqpjk2 Uduu 2nmaibjbi Bpah6c6ow6bugfl8npjuyxljodxtkoevuokbu3o7hwyilesvww
Photo Courtesy: naive—eye/Pixabay

The device is real. It's designed to mitigate the risks of a high-speed chase and perhaps track a suspect's vehicle when they think they’ve gotten away. It's called StarChase, and some police departments’ cars are already using the technology.

Decoy Vehicles

Decoy police cars are mostly used as deterrents for traffic violations like speeding. They can either be real police cars with no one inside, out-of-service cars or sometimes just signs or rigs that give the illusion of being real police cars.

Gbdqdoafktgywlyqfm 2munzftsfd Ergi Pmksqnrjy263kmfxc4hesbfctw36kncjs Xlxka Xfbmeporgf0kdi9z6luogwtcsbh3skimbovh5qjhe7qh3wef5rsg Rp2rtjumnj Pg0jd A
Photo Courtesy: Yucel Moran/Unsplash

Sometimes they're used in a sneaky way, making drivers think they’ve just cleared a speed trap or DUI checkpoint and can relax. But an awaiting cop sits in a real car down the road. They're mostly found in high-traffic areas and on freeways.

Italian Police Lamborghinis

Well, not all Italian police drive Lamborghinis. But there are a few of them in service donated by the manufacturer in Italy, England and South Africa. These unbelievably cool vehicles can reach speeds of up to 200 miles per hour.

2jjw0oi36qpwdkdnoywyiecisisn Lufbnz66akz7e2hdorbszdo 0vtqgvucasrnn89dphw1sfyc2kc4s6uuzpwh5patognv P0snf3lxwj Hcbrj6zwrcxzmwtyjbmv0buysd8zip J8lgfq
Photo Courtesy: Adriano/Wikimedia Commons

But the police in Italy don't bring these vehicles to just any situation. Because of their speed capability, they’re specialized vehicles uniquely suited for the delivery of organs for transplantation or for emergency highway situations. No one’s going to risk damaging a Lamborghini for a routine traffic stop or some casual patrol.


No Upholstery

If you were a police officer, imagine the kinds of dicey situations that you might have to put yourself in the middle of. One preemptive measure for the transport of suspects in the back of the police car is a hard, non-upholstered seat. It's not to purposely make the ride uncomfortable, though.

B4ppe5ilwsfn Dcp1i3emdu9norlqulh8qa3 28e2gqtru7 F2madoowz Dvroc3vhjvygl Cn4xdlqbn4neew3d67blqv4qmbg5uyig3zrkbvbr65lw5eon9xchivwns6e0ifn0ihuqyuiswg
Photo Courtesy: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Rather, if a suspect is injured, sick or drunk, it's much easier to hose down a mess than to be stuck cleaning a cloth interior. There's also less of a chance a suspect can hide contraband.

Advanced Surveillance Technology

Advanced technology in police cars is the norm rather than the exception these days. Most cars use a surveillance system called DDACTS, which stands for Data-Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety.

Gijogx5xe2cvxirofwasnisqsbvpkihhdsvtpexvxqw5zzsexbx0uu6t Wpfmnzz2wjn77qyz Jdxf Kwvgqg4hhv9vcff Zurd1jj6ap6ivnilp1wfsh9wpgsrlx5kjzvbo3iprppphorka
Photo Courtesy: Kurt Desplenter/Getty Images

It works like this: The car automatically surveils its surroundings in real time, takes stills and sends these to a centralized police database, kind of like their bat-computer. The computer data is synched and continuously updated by all the cars in the fleet. This makes sure everyone has up-to-date information and no one is left out of the loop.

The Secret Language of Sirens

Police sirens have markedly different sounds for different situations. If you live in the city, you might hear the "piercer" the most, which is intentionally designed to have a piercing sound for high-traffic and congested areas. Another one is called the "wailer," which is for police situations on highways or freeways.

Nqtoll8s78tqmy69uyui4caeror0d2fjuqxllhj1brawnqgof2gv3isdi1peh2ak0kl1eap Lymmlut2aaa Kiryurrkpgkq A0c7tyl2flmucz9osgb Coqtu1b8uxqfkolrg6tivwsrzn1q
Photo Courtesy: geralt/Pixabay

Sometimes the police need to signal to get cars out of the way or to get people to move on. For this, police use a siren with a combination of lower- and higher-pitch sounds called "the howler."



Once the realm of science fiction, surveillance drones are part of regular everyday life now. Some police cars come equipped with specialized drones, which are perfectly suited to monitor an emergency situation before first responders can get there. They're also great for finding suspects fleeing (or hiding from) the law.

5tpkt Nrcjdqmsitoeicc35u4mz6lcuzbxskucoq5nco2dajqgpeoxo8saiw7dgmi4lzidh65xcqglbgqzc R2swdswm2awcace0jqud1noukhfsqsi Mny45sscwme3rlvo0kenn7v8gq9j0q
Photo Courtesy: Miguel Ángel Hernández/Unsplash

Some drones are equipped with thermal imaging technology in addition to their optical zoom cameras. They’re small and easy to transport, so it was only a matter of time before they became perfect for police departments and their fleets.

The Rumbler Siren

The rumbler is a recent addition to the sounds a police siren can make. It's a specialized siren with low-frequency sounds. In modern times, drivers may not hear the police siren because of their own loud car speakers, a conversation on a headset or loud screaming or talking from within the car. Or maybe all that at once!

1wc3donvyjpbuh3kqlgedvr71zsg4elgp4l2ylxpnm9rmesnh155b3xq1nh9divno Qcjj1gb Kgonpx0evmtr2ics Pg1r6fbrymwlus1wxnmhhsc9ot8e3niuvm3jtr0ztsxmr6p H6oawja
Photo Courtesy: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

The rumbler has a sound that pushes through all that high-frequency noise with low-frequency tones, an effect similar to a subwoofer that produces bass frequencies. You don't just hear it; you feel it.

Teddy Bears as Standard Issue

Too often in the line of police work, police officers encounter traumatic situations in which a child is involved, such as in an auto accident. The Dutch police, as part of the standard-issue accessories in their cars, carry teddy bears to help soothe children and get them through tough situations. It's also great for distracting them with something else if they need medical treatment on the spot.

Aqapcql7ubz4cstmxfgfpko4 Tds9yudv Guvulfewaecob6dkj4ycntdiufqesu7504bdwf Iuz5u9r1132pkigufvwk0mj4wm0z8sue2jjkhpc Tkujchkxyr7arusqzohr4y E4s1jwkihg
Photo Courtesy: cherylholt/Pixabay

Though it's not as common, there are anecdotal stories of some American cops coming equipped with stuffed animals for the same reason.


Facial Recognition Technology

If you’re worried that facial recognition technology will one day come to police departments everywhere...sorry. It's too late for that. Facial recognition for law-enforcement use is already here, and some cops have these devices in their cars.

Tvdpllfcqwnpso 5pdt Onjcmecq90d4iru0wvg0ozyoqwhlfgtiuwxt6u3fsbvodfxuoad2318owulkkeqte35hienjuohnhabt59 Hb36vtotvnfq2tuuxuyes4ujb6rwbo8sq9tj6zz5f3g
Photo Courtesy: J Taylor/Wikimedia Commons

Some of the devices that are available are somewhat concealed and don't look anything like fancy cameras. One facial recognition system can be so inconspicuous and straightforward that it can be installed on virtually any vehicle, so it's likely that, in the future, most police cars will have something similar.

Super Alternators

In an ordinary car, an alternator provides power to the dashboard, the instruments, all the lights and the speakers. It also helps turn the engine over when you start the vehicle. A police car, on the other hand, is no ordinary car.

53vqd9uhav6kk9v2xvhgeuvt9ujvki7xpl5ujbod69tpo0erejfeqlg8uded2sfsdlbwueywbxfsn4au4qcfes34sx5ehbo04taxljobqpqet19xd3vxlawit5y Fdv8xf0qs0s4ucnuwmfjjw
Photo Courtesy: Squadron/Pixabay

It needs a boost for its high-powered spotlight, its on-board computer, sirens, loudspeaker, communication devices and surveillance equipment. This requires a huge upgrade in the electricity-output department. Couple that with all the wear and tear, and you can see why a cop car needs a hefty alternator that can handle the load.

LAPD Electric Police Cars

More and more vehicles on the road are electric or hybrid, and certain police department fleets are starting to accept that trend. Believe it or not, the very first police vehicle was all-electric, and now it looks like history is coming full-circle.

Wbcbblfz4ja6gbirm4w Dn8ks Fcy9wp2hyidzgp8ddz Ibmjzgljq8b04cn3ymyzgla0lhkpexytzbeatck1s8wz8 Jhm3w7wduhue9us5gfw J5qb3u14jlnfgwadpwis4ayyl2xu333cdqg
Photo Courtesy: David McNew/Getty Images

Starting in 2006, BMW supplied the LAPD with 100 electric police vehicles at a price tag of $1.4 million. That's actually a great deal for taxpayers, with each car coming in around $14,000. The police chief hailed it as a great move for the environment.


Outrunning the Chevy Caprice

Most police cars are built for speed, and the Chevy Caprice police car is the fastest in North America. According to a report in USA Today, the Chevy Caprice tops out at 155 miles per hour. That's more than twice most speed limits.

Xxjnbkki3hd1cmrastw W Qcx9ywkwh2eftqdcxtcij5vgaabs57 226lw12gjsxyz5djtg Ai8027bynp6929qibfa5yqrir 9luxgz3tyg0zkj9 4jlifz9dgnqqyonfy I7gx5k4 Ptw9vw
Photo Courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

Other cars give it a run for its money, though. For example, the modified Ford Taurus police car can go from zero to 60 in 5.7 seconds. But, if the Caprice were on the German Autobahn, most civilian cars would probably outrun it. Because, you know...Germany.


Police are often the first responders in an emergency situation, and as such, police require some medical training and carry medical equipment as part of the standard issue in their cars. Most cars are equipped with automatic external defibrillators, or AEDs.

Gqdb28ipzalfscrbevqc2g7seikjiub84 A5d Arslccyaqmgvygb3ka6kencrmzu7s3db81lalsocwvjdoveuf2ky0noednesdl1p1xubhmuuzdhx4dt4w 6co1x5bagc35qgvjgbrnuavppa
Photo Courtesy: Metropolitan Transit Authority of the State of New York/Wikimedia Commons

The AED can diagnose anyone with an irregular heartbeat that’s symptomatic of cardiac arrest and then deliver a shock to get the heart back to a regular rhythm. Though police officers aren’t paramedics, training that includes basic first aid, CPR and defibrillation helps save lives every year.

Hours Instead of Miles

As one famous Indiana Jones quote goes, "It's not the age, it's the mileage." However, it's a bit flipped with police cars. It's not just the mileage that's an accurate gauge of wear and tear. It's also hours of service.

Orcmbxraeikebrbkszp4ek Yf83dralpdb7y4stz4lrarz Zuhgipbj3j9g N Bx7dmrqhxcqzltsfi0bcc8mxc3ycruon2zr2ba Bxml0kpr0uj3lk0so4pyxunswifoslxkn Rqv 9cqeta
Photo Courtesy: MikesPhotos/Pixabay

Police cars have a special device that measures how many total hours a car has been in use. Police cars must remain idle for long periods of time to keep onboard computers cool. Mileage alone can't account for the wear on a hard-working engine.


Police Dogs’ Special Cars

K-9 units come with their own police handlers who must undergo rigorous specialized training. They also require special cars to accommodate each pooch's needs. The dogs have to be kept cool while the cars idle, so the AC units must be reliable and work at different temperatures.

Hxldbqln Wtaoj90z4nxjpyk7u9ca2n27sk3ar87nfguw29xe B2zn36lrvihdkp6lcjsxrevby9jtqqhzv6gflovlallmyz8wwrlvchcy1dwq2e D1cckumwpge8n Ufxazg6urvgzwuhhh8g
Photo Courtesy: U.S. Secret Service/Wikimedia Commons

The cars must have reinforced cages to protect the dogs in case of accidents. They also have additional equipment for the dogs, like harnesses and muzzles. The back seat is split into two areas — one just for the dog.

Dubai Bugattis

And you thought Italians drove fast. Some units in Dubai drive Bugatti Veyrons, which have a brain-melting speed of up to 250 miles per hour. This holds the world record for the fastest police car. That's faster than what a passenger jet requires to take off!

Ereiqqygvwme5rnhl0ckou077 Un08hro1fopxmyzx6fiowsoifbu1qwkvnq30wvu5ygkk409fayy0qherbuhetbwj3uf8hmpovrupxzun0qqkzdu0hkernssyee2e5d2 Tbuyxk Nw Kq Bfw
Photo Courtesy: Etienne (Li)/Wikimedia Commons

Dubai is one of the richest cities in the world, and its police car fleet reflects that. In addition to the Bugatti, some officers drive Porsche Panameras, Bentley GTs or Aston Martin One-77s. To outrun the Dubai police, you need a jet.

The PIT Bumper

Ever notice the cage-style bumpers on the fronts of police cars? That's called the PIT bumper, an acronym for "pursuit intervention technique." They’re designed to end a high-speed vehicle chase by slightly bumping the rear of the pursued car, thus altering its trajectory and sending it into a spin.

Kkrmwhchhhmoft Nhemjdukabdr8xzlqu Hkamo3qtgs7x2ebssm Ew C 46h3drqwii3gbw44u Hegouaw 3szxmy67inq Rdgoiobuqjjt Epox7u2nnjxg6dzwhg1bk0bwhycatcgfrdwa
Photo Courtesy: K9Vic/Wikimedia Commons

Though it's still possible to try the technique without the PIT bumper, it assumes a much greater risk of damage or loss of control for the driver. Yet another reason that running from the police is a bad idea.


The Crown Victoria’s Bulletproof Doors

The Crown Victoria was one of the most popular police cars of all time, partially because it was so reliable and easy to maintain. For about a five-year period in the ‘90s, the Ford Crown Victoria dominated 80% of the police-car market in the United States.

Fwlnyqchuyzplw 6vpuhvly7s 6bmcb6kukllwwac4qvelyrmrerw07jg5tpojwzrzrootodwh8 O 11wwgi6moaz4ud1r0ykkn Bvwadpciuaskmh4bjsqi 3ykeijqd0zobqtubzmbrzahtg
Photo Courtesy: Toban13/Wikimedia Commons

They went out of fashion because they underperformed in terms of horsepower. Starting in 2006, the Crown Vic hoped for a comeback with a great new standard feature: Kevlar-reinforced bulletproof doors. It wasn't enough, though. The Crown Vic is all but gone.

Unmarked Cars

There are far more unmarked cars in circulation than you might think. Most drivers hate the notion of an unmarked cop car — they seem sneaky and underhanded and are used mostly for minor traffic violations. What most drivers don't know is that you can recognize an unmarked car if you're paying attention.

6c058ye75sqgs2su4cfx1hdp5s12l4fqzr Qhrvvw Cw1jyvpd9mn7jho61zzsf2iljo2sybm2igcitvo8lpqaabma0gc5mly2pp3mbyly1lxzwco K0bx7nhgycsmbehzgwri Vdrt600u4ca
Photo Courtesy: Tony Hisgett/Wikimedia Commons

The first tell-tale sign is the light bar, which is right above the dash or built onto or inside the grille. Also, look for multiple antennae or funny-looking side mirrors. Your best bet is just to drive safely.

Automatic Number Plate Recognition

Ever wonder how you might have been caught with an outdated registration by a cop who could barely see your license plate number? Chances are they had help from a computer. Most cop cars now have automatic number plate recognition, which uses a scanning camera on the police car to constantly surveil.

9dejsragtkvgs4ybdxpaurb99hzguadn76mqwj9u3pjpy2c9xi7csytivvrt5i64 V9miltjppu Buj9lipozwfxwf3ma Ssc O1a8uuotpf2hrx5fvsqdxmoejramm5smc33yfnra8costy3a
Photo Courtesy: ScottMLiebenson/Wikimedia Commons

But expired registrations are not their primary targets. The computers are always on the watch for stolen cars or cars involved in serious crimes. Though not every police vehicle has the technology, it’s now pretty common.


German Rockets

Ever wonder what car German police use to patrol the Autobahn? The answer is the Mercedes-Benz Brabus Rocket. Though it's not quite as fast as the Dubai Police Bugatti, it comes pretty close, topping out at a whopping 228 miles per hour. As mentioned before, that's flying speed!

9vpq02wzm5tjmlyqs4ahdmmoaflqc 9pp8w3h7l Wv0lp 7il 0wl9puyk3qub5upuqnt4jtfffhichtepqszjx Pvgwj5qc 2tugyhuhqt Pvijl5g67kysdx 7ol2alkqs8im3hy Cfo76eq
Photo Courtesy: Thomas doerfer/Wikimedia Commons

The car is a beast with a 6.3L V12 engine to accommodate its ludicrous speed. Technically not the fastest engineered car in the world, one model still set the land speed record for cars that are street legal. In Italy, of course.

Assault Weapon-proof Doors

Yes, it’s true; some police cars do have bulletproof doors. But no matter what you see on television or in the movies, most of those doors can only withstand small-arms fire that uses low-caliber bullets. At least, that was true up until a few years ago.

Wwi0kehtprwqsqjc8bpq2qykqzinxr6trusdablhjgul90mcohvawg Zzz4vpb12ae93ityajlmzplwaoysttjc Geetaypdzbs1nyaw4ejkqmvohvi6aq9inmkps1eckgksqgyfcfiw7dud1g
Photo Courtesy: NBC/Getty Images

There are new police car doors that are capable of stopping .30 caliber bullets. That kind of ammunition might come from an assault rifle or other high-powered weapons. The doors still won't stop everything that an officer might face, but they’re a good start.

Fingerprint Access for Computers

As anyone might guess, a police computer is loaded with sensitive information that would be extremely dangerous in the wrong hands. Though it’s unlikely that a criminal might get access to a cop's computer inside their car, the computer is still safeguarded for that risk.

87nrkdw Fyy2jo2iqo Ipf4roknnsyqcp7liisxixorx4rukqxt Ifvuccih4inod3ffjzmla1ddkbgxqkf72qwak8xvsmrgu6yhuos Shbvlkt4dahcmyuy95gggp0eggzmgff39gjgya5v G
Photo Courtesy: ar130405/Pixabay

In addition to a password, most mobile police computers inside the cars require fingerprint access for the officers to use them. So, in the unlikely event a perpetrator gets access to a police car, they still can't access any information or anything else the computer does.


Most Police Cars Are Virtually Race Cars

It's just logical — if you want to catch bad guys, you have to drive a fast car. For that reason, police car fleets have some of the fastest street-legal cars in the whole country, with respectable horsepower to boot.

Rz Mb6apsyodo5pvp56 0fyykuie9lc7iars4dspymat88c 4d6lcgzhhysjfytisih3jk Xteoauzlh5ylxk5xaay3zycr8pacvsimbmva61rnbxfhwntcijt Hszf77ljloggymf7bfo Cyw
Photo Courtesy: User:GPDII/Wikimedia Commons

That wasn't always the case here. The Ford Crown Victoria, which was the most popular cop car for years, was underwhelming in the power and speed departments. These days, with the fastest police cars approaching top speeds of 150 miles per hour, it seems a fool's errand to think you could outpace the law.

Sorry, No Joyriding

Almost all police cars have what's called a "runlock" system. This allows a car to idle at low power while the keys are out of the ignition. If somehow, against all odds, a suspect or a passerby jumps into the car and tries to take off, the car won't let them without the keys.

B63jwp3fb7wiuekqh5yvrvdostbumegfqw99tdxkc6mox3skg24chf58zywu9qqhx3q2li4fnvkyl0famivydfzrt5hbk Hxfsa9nzgrvt4hisaz28wts7q2umfakhblhpjng9l9xrdmcqli4g
Photo Courtesy: Rosemary Ketchum/Pexels

As soon as anyone releases the handbrake or depresses the brake pedal, the car shuts down in this mode. But there's no accounting for driver error. If the cop leaves their keys in the's possible.

New Technology May Replace Sirens

An alternative to sirens may soon be available. Some recent developments in siren technology are already in use, like the rumbler siren. Another technique that may soon become available is a short-range FM transmitter that can broadcast specifically to your car.

Xycs 5cneevblckounxwhyuelcvlyajipt4yoijzfd0fdx6gdmbggyi7nejb3yjfrdyufcoqytw64r5aufydihma0c Aw Rk7inskgb4tr1o Kbvffafptxlwcxmviazjf5mkhlrbi8zdqvua
Photo Courtesy: diegoparra/Pixabay

So if you're listening to "My Heart Will Go On" a little too loudly to hear the siren, the cop can hijack your whole world. Though honestly, if you don't notice a loud siren plus a rumbler...perhaps you shouldn't be driving. Technology can't fix inattention completely.


Police Car Auctions

Did you know you can buy used police cars at auctions for insanely low prices? We're talking three figures low, maybe even $500 or under. Now, some of these cars are from the ‘90s and have a lot of wear and tear.

Cpb1epz8hevmusod6vlfznvxa2svdqxkj5xql8l1xiak5evbrssubmvm8mivqlypk02ya7tr8ptprf Lw Jac9kotjmb2ncqenc7aaf848y7zvxgawlb0pqrcpipu9j Fx9js4h6acwxpgzvlq
Photo Courtesy: Bull-Doser/Wikimedia Commons

And it's best if you've researched what kind of scrap values the engine and other parts have so that you can sell in case you don't want to refurbish it. These things are sold as-is, so you may not even be able to drive one off the lot.

Mobile Debt Collectors

One uncomfortable side-effect of data being tied together in the information age is that it's almost impossible to hide from minor infractions. Even "oopsies" like uncollected debt can turn up attached to your name and license plate number.

Jgwrolx66yust Alv1qve Hugcda6lwloe8to7uiif6r6zzuma0q1swhtvnvyhuidmvie1 W3rizh Vb7s9ikuvm Uofexrzaitsrnoewaf8lsttabedxmqggfsoupeayt Nwufoqokytxvb8w
Photo Courtesy: MediaNews Group/The Riverside Press-Enterprise via Getty Images

Such is the case in Texas, where one security company is offering free license plate-reading technology to the cops in exchange for access to driver information for commercial purposes. Yeah, that doesn't sound good. Police also use it to find folks with outstanding court fees. Welcome to the shady new world.

Personal Cars for Cops?

In some areas, police officers are allowed to use their police cars as their own personal vehicles. They're even subsidized to cover costs, so long as they bring the cars in regularly to get serviced. The police department provides all the rest of the equipment.

Rcrdveo6loqxjnsi1jfmuthxeku3cwmmpyx Gk Wd59 Yjw Imt9jz3cnf 1tm1e4o9r9opp1cvxgobtqciligadfrzana43zjkpyhutmhq2 Yhq0kwm9mo Fniy4dnjt06rjz33 G2g2wb5ug
Photo Courtesy: Vicki Ni/Pexels

Part of the reasoning of these police departments is that if the officer is entrusted with the car as their own personal vehicle, they’ll take better care of it. But it still might make neighbors nervous seeing it in the driveway.