Police Officer and Law Enforcement Vehicles and Transport Units

Police vehicles

Law enforcement officers rely on high performance vehicles to ensure the ability to respond to various situations in an appropriate and timely manner. These vehicles are designed to provide officers with an effective means of patrolling city streets, transporting suspects, storing equipment and weaponry. In addition, the vehicles provide varying levels of protection depending on their intended purpose.

Peace or police officers use a variety of vehicles that cater to different situational needs.

Most Commonly Used Police Vehicles

Here are some of the common types vehicles used by law enforcement officials in the United States (in alphabetical order):

Armored vehicles

Predominantly used by SWAT teams, armored vehicles are deployed in special situations. In case of crowd or riot control, armored vehicles help police officers gain safe entry into areas that would be unable to access otherwise. They also come in use during hostage scenarios or when public spaces are hijacked by terrorist shooters. Armored vehicles keep passengers safe from 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. 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.


Law enforcement uses 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 models developed by BMW, Harley-Davidson and Kawasaki.

Police Cruiser or Squad Car

Squad, police pursuit vehicles, or patrol cars are easily the most popular type of vehicle used by officers. 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 or 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 breaking systems, and advanced accents and features like sirens and light bars.

Sport Utility Vehicle (SUV)

Police officers make the most of 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 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 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 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 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.
  • 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 drive to keep his hands on the wheel while running plates.


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