By on June 13, 2016

Money (Frankleleon/Flickr)

When a police cruiser lights up behind you, a driver usually fears two things: a costly speeding ticket, or a roadside breathalyzer test.

The driver probably isn’t worrying about having the contents of his or her bank account seized, followed by a long and possibly fruitless journey to recoup their lost cash, but that’s the power local law enforcement has over its citizens.

And technology is now making it easier to use that power more and more often. (Read More…)

By on May 13, 2016

2013-Tesla-Model-S-Rear

It was nice of Tesla founder Elon Musk to deliver a Model S P85D to the Los Angeles Police Department for testing last year, but they’re kindly going to return it. Possibly with a note under the wiper asking him to make it much cheaper.

The hyper-performing electric sedan took up residence with the LAPD (along with a BMW i3) last September, part of a research initiative that studied how EVs could fit into a future policing model.

With testing over and grades handed out, the LAPD can now say with confidence that the Model S isn’t their cup of tea. The speed was nice, but the price? This isn’t Dubai. (Read More…)

By on May 5, 2016

2014-ford-fusion-energi-01

Call it the Ford Narc.

In the near future, police cruisers could detect drug labs just by sniffing the air as they drive down a street, CBC DFW reports (via Autoblog), all thanks to a device built by a team from the University of North Texas.

The highly sensitive mass spectrometer, calibrated in the clean air climes of Antarctica, was installed in the front seat of a Ford Fusion Energi sedan eight months ago. (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2016

texting behind the wheel of death

As the state of New York debates new distracted driving legislation, an Israeli firm is putting the finishing touches on a “textalyzer” device that could rat out drivers for using their phone before a crash.

Israeli mobile forensics firm Cellebrite developed the data-scanning device, according to Ars Technica, which could become the newest — and most controversial — law enforcement tool since the Taser.

Cellebrite, which sounds like a medication for over-sexed honors students, specializes in data extraction and decoding, and boasts of its 15,000-plus military and law enforcement customers on its website. The firm really knows its stuff — it’s generally believed that they helped the FBI hack into the iPhone at the heart of the San Bernardino/Apple controversy.

(Read More…)

By on April 8, 2016

chase

Two suspects in a non-violent Los Angeles burglary decided yesterday that if you’re being watched on TVs everywhere, you should at least entertain your audience.

The two men, who were pursued by police and watched from the air, drove their rental Ford Mustang convertible through rainy afternoon traffic and past excited crowds in what the L.A. Times has called “The most L.A. chase ever.”

(Read More…)

By on April 7, 2016

2017 Ford Police Interceptor Utility

It’s getting harder and harder to recognize cop cars in your rearview mirror.

First, Ford dropped the long-serving Crown Victoria police cruiser, whose telltale headlights could be spotted from the moon, and now the rooftop light bar is fading into history.

(Read More…)

By on March 11, 2016

Machine gun practice, Iraq

Sure, most (if not all) cop cars offer protection from boring ol’ pistols and AR-15s. But if you’re looking to drive into a hail of armor-piercing .30-caliber rifle or machine gun fire, Ford’s got your back.

The company announced yesterday that its Police Interceptor vehicles will now offer the highest level of ballistic protection among pursuit-rated vehicles.

Ford says the plates inserted inside the doors of its pursuit vehicles will meet the Department of Justice’s (DoJ) National Institute of Justice standard Type IV. The move is a bonus for police officers and delivers bragging rights to Ford, given that pursuit vehicles from other automakers only meet Type III specifications. Poseurs. (Read More…)

By on December 31, 2015

alcohol-bar-party-cocktail

It’s New Year’s Eve, which means I’m terrified of getting on the roads past 6 p.m. and many law enforcement agencies will be on the streets en masse to bust motorists who’ve had a tee many martoonies.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatal traffic crashes involving alcohol spike in December around the holidays; on average, one person was killed in a fatal drunk driving crash every 57 minutes in 2014, according to the safety agency.

Which means, if you’re going to party, let’s find you a ride first. (Read More…)

By on September 16, 2015

095

Earlier in the day on Tuesday, as I drove my brilliant little Ford Fiesta ST on Route 15 through the rolling hills of Kentucky on my way to Kingsport, Tennessee, I was wondering what the topic of my Wednesday column would be.

Thankfully, later in the evening, Kingsport’s Finest solved that issue for me.

In the interest of full transparency, the drive from my home in Central Kentucky to Kingsport should take about four hours, according to MyFordTouch Navigation. I did it in about 3:15, including a stop for a large, unsweetened tea and an apple pie at a McDonald’s along the way. The Fiesta is just too fun for interstate driving, so rather than the I-75 route I could have chosen, I took the Bert T. Combs Mountain Parkway until I reached Route 15, which took me to US 23 into Virginia and then into Tennessee for the final few miles. Obviously, I didn’t adhere to the posted speed limits for the vast majority of the drive.

(Read More…)

By on July 31, 2015

distracted

I am utterly convinced that our descendants will look on the aggressive prosecution of “distracted driving” the way hipster kids today look at the “Reefer Madness” scare of the Thirties. As police departments across the nation weigh the relative rates at which smartphone owners and career drunk drivers pay their court fines in a timely fashion (hint: it’s heavily weighed in favor of the former category), the shrill call to take additional action against people holding phones for any reason including navigation will reach a fever pitch not seen among American law enforcement since an idiot named Jack Anderson told them the Glock 17 could sneak through a metal detector. A claim, by the way, that Rachel Maddow repeated a few years ago, presumably because Maddow is either a deliberate liar or an unknowing dupe.

American drivers with more than a few days’ experience will note that the police tend to choose their speedtrap locations not by the risk that speeding in a given location poses to public safety but rather by ease of access and proximity to well-heeled drivers who are likely to quickly pay their tickets. In my hometown of Columbus, for example, speed enforcement on Route 315, which runs from the wealthy suburbs to the downtown offices, is constant and vigilant. Speed enforcement on Route 71, which runs parallel through the city but has exits leading to the ghetto and the truck stops instead of the ‘burbs, is nonexistent with the exception of the short stretch that connects the outerbelt to the upscale mall. As a consequence, Route 315 is an orderly low-speed commuter parade every day and Route 71 looks like a scene from Mad Max: Fury Road.

This cash-directed approach to safety has reached a new nadir, however, with a distracted-driving program that targets drivers who are incapable of doing any harm whatsoever.
(Read More…)

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