Police officers rely on a wide variety of high-performance vehicles to ensure they can effectively respond to various situations in an appropriate and timely manner. These police vehicles are designed to provide officers with an effective means of patrolling city streets, transporting suspects, storing equipment and weaponry, responding to riots and hostage situations, and more.
In addition, the vehicles provide varying levels of protection depending on their intended purpose. Following is a list of vehicles used by police officers and other law enforcement personnel.
List of Police Vehicles
Here are some of the common types of vehicles used by police officers in the United States (in alphabetical order). Please post a comment below to suggest additional police vehicles for the list.
Predominantly used by SWAT teams, armored vehicles are deployed in special situations. In the case of crowd or riot control, armored vehicles help police officers gain safe entry into areas that would be unable to access otherwise. Armored cars, trucks, and tanks can also be used during hostage scenarios or when public spaces are hijacked by terrorist shooters.
Armored vehicles keep passengers safe from the external onslaught and armed fire. They work as effective shields and carriers so that officers can get up close to the action, making it easier to gain control of the situation.
Bikes or Bicycles
Bikes are used by some departments to allow officers to patrol around crowded city areas. The bikes usually don’t carry much in the way of equipment, but some have small equipment pouches that include various accessories that the rider may need during their shift. Items could include a first aid kit, water bottles, flashlight, cell phone, tablet computer, and other items. The use of the bikes also increases officer visibility in the community.
Command Post Vehicles
They are dispatched to any situation to serve as a centralized meeting area, radio command centers, and other purposes. These are often custom-built for individual department needs, but often include such features and equipment as satellite TV, WiFi hubs and hotspots, portable scene lighting, communications equipment, electricity generators, storage, workstations for detectives, and analysts, and much more.
Although they are not technically vehicles, Drones are quickly becoming a popular method of tracking down criminals and conducting surveillance. If you’re interested in the latest technology used in the field, learn about Police Drones, the latest aerial surveillance and photography technology used in Law Enforcement and Investigations.
Police officers who work in city parks and recreation areas may ride horses to patrol certain areas. Units that use horses are referred to as “mounted” units. The horses not only allow officers to move around quickly, but they also give them an above-the-crowd view of what’s going on. This helps them spot criminal activity, crowd control issues, and citizens who may need help.
Police officers use motorcycles for a number of reasons. Motorcycles are used for traffic enforcement, such as in the hit television series, CHIPS. They are great for rapid acceleration, which allows officers to go from a dead stop to over 60 miles an hour in about five seconds. They are also good for maneuvering through traffic jams or other types of crowded areas where a car or van won’t fit.
“Motors”, as they are often referred to are also used to escort government officials and sometimes even celebrities through crowded streets. They are also used during parades, funerals, and other special events. Most forces use motorcycle models developed by BMW, Harley-Davidson, and Kawasaki.
Police cruisers are also known as police pursuit vehicles, patrol cars, and sometimes squad cards, are easily the most popular type of police vehicle. These cars are specially adapted to suit diverse requirements. Reliable and well-equipped these vehicles are enhanced with special services like state-of-the-art safety features, impressive cargo space, and interior room.
Cruiser or pursuit cars are built to reach high speeds in record time to help chase and apprehend fleeing suspects. Several car companies modify and improve certain models to meet the requirements and rigors of police work.
Some of the more common models used as squad cars are the Ford Taurus, Ford Crown Victoria Interceptor, Chevy Caprice, and Dodge Charger. These cars are remodeled and equipped with enhanced performance alternators, quality suspension, increased battery power, high power, and performance engines, innovative braking systems, advanced accents, and features like sirens and light bars.
Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV)
Police officers make the most of the benefits unique to SUVs. These vehicles are generally used in times of rough weather and terrain and help combat hazardous conditions like heavy snowfall and ice. SUVs work well when duty calls for officers to get off the pavement when in pursuit. Additional carrying capacity and room in SUVs also come in handy in certain situations.
Mid to full-size SUVs are often preferred choice as police vehicles and make excellent patrol cars as well with their ability to blend into traffic. Models used for police work include Ford Excursion, Ford Expedition, and Ford Explorer.
Vans and Paddy Wagons
Mainly used for their utilitarian purposes, vans are used to transport groups of officers or prisoners. Models from minivans to full-scale tactical operation units are generally employed. In addition, vans are used as surveillance vehicles and fitted with listening devices, cameras, audio, and visual recording equipment.
Mostly used by the county or rural police, pickup trucks are operated by officers in areas where a majority of the population drives trucks as well. This helps officers keep a low profile and work well in case of excessive snowfall and extreme weather conditions. Ford Raptor is a common model of truck used by law enforcement officials.
Special Vehicle Features
There are a number of new and innovative features becoming available for law enforcement cars. Following are some examples of the most interesting features:
- Blackout mode – Allows the vehicle’s interior lights to go completely dark at speeds below 15 miles an hour. This allows drivers to remain completely unnoticed when performing surveillance when following a suspect or arriving on the scene.
- Surveillance Mode – If something comes within a certain distance of the rear of the car, the officer is alerted, the windows roll up automatically and the doors lock. This helps protect drivers from an ambush, which is becoming more common in today’s society.
- Secure Park – This feature locks the trunk and the gun rack and prevents them from being opened.
- Automated License Plate Recognition (ALPR) – This feature provides the ability to automatically search plates for stolen or suspect vehicles is priceless. This allows the driver to keep his hands on the wheel while running plates.
Questions and Comments
If you have any questions about this list of vehicles used by police officers, please leave a comment below. See also: List of Equipment Police Officers use in the line of duty.
“Blackout mode – Allows the vehicles interior lights to go completely dark at speeds below 15 miles an hour. This allows drivers to remain completely unnoticed when performing surveillance, when following a suspect or arriving on scene.”
Can you please elaborate on this? Which vehicles/manufacturers are providing this option?
There are several companies that provide blackout mode solutions for police cruisers. For example, one solution is the InterMotive Police Interface Module (PIM) for Dodge Durango Pursuit vehicles. One of its optional features is blackout mode, which deactivates all of the external and internal lights for covert operations including headlights, taillights, and brake lights.