The Truth About Cars » police cruiser http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 20 Oct 2014 22:44:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » police cruiser http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com 日本の警察の車: The Cars of the Japanese Police http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/%e6%97%a5%e6%9c%ac%e3%81%ae%e8%ad%a6%e5%af%9f%e3%81%ae%e8%bb%8a-the-cars-of-the-japanese-police/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/02/%e6%97%a5%e6%9c%ac%e3%81%ae%e8%ad%a6%e5%af%9f%e3%81%ae%e8%bb%8a-the-cars-of-the-japanese-police/#comments Sun, 24 Feb 2013 14:19:02 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=478547 Hot girls in short skirts are the first things that leap into my mind whenever anyone says anything about the Japanese. The internet has not helped to change that, in fact it may have made things worse. If you add the word “Japanese” to any noun that describes a group of people and enter it […]

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They can cuff me anytime.

Hot girls in short skirts are the first things that leap into my mind whenever anyone says anything about the Japanese. The internet has not helped to change that, in fact it may have made things worse. If you add the word “Japanese” to any noun that describes a group of people and enter it into your favorite search engine, pictures of hot young girls will always appear near the top of the results. Look for Japanese tour guides, Japanese students, Japanese beach volleyball players or Japanese anything and you will see I am right. Try it, I’ll wait.

Now that you’re back, did you look for Japanese Police? I did, and despite my prior confession I was surprised at what I found. The main reason for that is because I have met a lot of Japanese police officers over the years and I can tell you from my own personal experience that they are, for the most part, nothing at all like the ones pictured above.

One of the most respected and professional police forces in the world, the Japanese “keisatsu” is a no nonsense outfit that takes its work seriously. Detectives pour over crime scenes and mark even the smallest bits of evidence with dozens of tiny red flags, rank and file officers patrol the streets on foot in groups or individually man “police boxes” in virtually every neighborhood and Japanese traffic police hone their driving and motorcycle riding skills to such perfection that only an idiot would think about running. The keisatsu is not an organization to be disrespected or trifled with and anyone who does, does so at their own peril.

Like any modern police force, the Japanese police have a tremendous amount of equipment. I could write several articles detailing armored cars, motorcycles, disaster response vehicles, buses, etc. but the most instantly recognizable vehicle in any police force is always the police car and Japan is no exception. Decked out in stunning black-and-white livery, Japanese police cars command instant attention and respect on the street. Unlike the United States, where most police cars are one of just two or three common types of sedan, the Japanese use an astonishing variety of cars, each especially suited to a specific role.

This photo is a bit dated, but I still love it.

Without a doubt, the coolest cars in the Japanese police’s motor pool are the interceptors, and well they should be because they are based on some of the baddest rides going. Some of the more famous examples have been Skyline GTRs, Mitsubishi 3000 GTs (Called the GTO in Japan), the RX-7, RX-8 and even the Fairlady Z. However, the Japanese police seldom engage in high speed chases and the rules of the road are usually maintained by speed cameras and the good old fashioned speed trap. So, while they look glorious wearing their official colors, these cars are used more as public relations tools than they are as true enforcers of public order.

One tool the keisatsu does use to great effect on the road is the unmarked car. These can be virtually any make or model and generally they hide their lights in the grill or under trap doors in the roof that pop open when they are triggered. I imagine that, like the unmarked cars used by American police forces, these cars are easily recognized by the locals but to me they were a real threat. On at least two occasions I ended up having polite conversations at the side of the road after cutting around a line of slow moving cars on the freeway to find one of these at the head of the parade. In both cases I got a firm talking to, but fortunately no tickets.

The Toyota Crown at work – check out those raised lights!

The backbone of the Japanese police fleet is the “patto-ka” and the most common patrol car on the Japanese roads today is the Toyota Crown. I have seen three versions of the Crown in action. One wears police livery but goes without the overhead lights and I presume this type of car is used by high ranking officers as a part of their duties. Actual “siren cars” as every little Japanese boy calls them, come in two flavors, those with regular, fixed red lights and those with red lights that can be raised for better visibility at accident scenes. Toyota Crowns, by the way, are also used in Japan as taxi-cabs and medium sized limos. The sheer number of them on the road makes me think they are pretty tough cars.

The Japanese police car Americans know the least about are those most often assigned to small neighborhood police stations. Because the Japanese police are committed to community policing, officers are often assigned to these small “koban” and they generally stay close to their duty station. The cars attached to these outposts are usually small econoboxes, with the cars most used being from the tiny 660cc kei class. These little cars are a great fit because they work well on narrow roads and offer the ability to carry a passenger. They are by no means fast and they would not serve as good patrol units, but they were never intended to.

A typical around town police car.

That’s because when posted to a Koban, Japanese officers are most often found on foot or on bicycles. Of course, we have bicycle patrols in the United States as well, but unlike the expensive high tech multi-speed bikes that specially outfitted and uniformed police use in our country, the Japanese approach is more mundane and makes a lot more sense.

Decked out in their regular uniforms on the same type of plain, single speed upright bikes often used by Japanese housewives, complete with handlebar mounted baskets and small cases on the cargo racks, the keisatsu are able to see and hear things that they might miss were they to patrol using motorized transport. They use the bicycle to its best advantage and their accessibility to the public makes the cop on the beat an easily approachable and welcome part of any neighborhood. How many American children know the names of the police officers who patrol our neighborhoods?

Bicycles patrols are more than just effective ways to reach the public, the are also environmentally friendly. As the sponsor of the Kyoto Convention on Climate Control, the Japanese government is especially concerned about going green wherever possible and, as a result many of the newest official vehicles are either hybrid or battery powered and police cars are no exception. As with the kei class cars, these vehicles are used in for short trips rather than day long patrols, but the fact they are relied upon at all shows that the Japanese police are constantly looking to modernize their fleet. Like the interceptors, these cars garner a great deal of public attention and often appear at public events. I expect that the numbers of these in service with the police will continue to increase as time goes on.

The Japanese police are a good organization that works hard to ensure public safety. They are serious about the job they do and the variety of vehicles they operate says a lot about their commitment. Like police forces worldwide, the Japanese police must work within a budget and one way they do so effectively is by using the right tools for specific jobs. I hope you have enjoyed this limited look at some of the cars they utilize in their effort to protect and to serve.

The average Japanese cop is more about kicking ass than he is about showing it.

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

Another dated photo, but too awesome to pass up. They can cuff me anytime. These guys are the real-deal. The Toyota Crown at work - check out those raised lights! A kei class van. A neighborhood "police box." A typical police motorpool, including a crash response truck. Once upon a time, the fast cars of the Japanese Police were imports. Nissan March - not kei class, but small. Mitsubishi electric This photo is a bit dated, but I still love it. Mazda RX-8 R33 Skyline A typical unmarked Nissan Skyline A typical around town police car. The Fairlady Z On patrol with the Japanese police. Japan 13 Bicycle cops - Picture courtesy kimonobox.com

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What Isn’t Wrong With This Picture: The Last Of The Panther Interceptors Edition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/what-isnt-wrong-with-this-picture-the-last-of-the-panther-interceptors-edition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/08/what-isnt-wrong-with-this-picture-the-last-of-the-panther-interceptors-edition/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2011 23:58:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=409457 Panther lovers will be sad to hear that this, the last of the black-and-white Crown Vic Interceptors, has gone down the line according to the Ford St Thomas Assembly Plant’s Facebook page. The last Panther (reportedly a Town Car) is scheduled to be built on Monday, and the plant’s “about 1,500″ workers will be laid […]

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Panther lovers will be sad to hear that this, the last of the black-and-white Crown Vic Interceptors, has gone down the line according to the Ford St Thomas Assembly Plant’s Facebook page. The last Panther (reportedly a Town Car) is scheduled to be built on Monday, and the plant’s “about 1,500″ workers will be laid off on the 12th of September. If you know someone who loves the Panther chassis, please be sensitive to their needs in this difficult time. Remind them that there’s always the used market, and that someday their beloved brutes will tear ass across a post-apocalyptic landscape, and be known as “the last of the V8 Interceptors.This is going to be OK…

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Caprice: King Of The Cop Cars? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/caprice-king-of-the-cop-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/caprice-king-of-the-cop-cars/#comments Fri, 28 Jan 2011 18:38:54 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=382116 Holden may be rightly proud of its competition-creaming new Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle, but Phoenix’s Finest just have one question: how often do you have to change those tires? And, as TTAC’s commentariat pointed out during the Michigan State Police’s trials, maintenance costs are nearly as important for police fleet buyers as pure performance. So, […]

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Holden may be rightly proud of its competition-creaming new Caprice Police Pursuit Vehicle, but Phoenix’s Finest just have one question: how often do you have to change those tires? And, as TTAC’s commentariat pointed out during the Michigan State Police’s trials, maintenance costs are nearly as important for police fleet buyers as pure performance. So, though the Caprice might out-hustle and out-interior-size its police-duty competition, the fact that only a limited number of civilian Zeta-sedans will make it to American roads means parts and maintenance won’t be as cheap or easy as the old Panthers. And because it hustles so nicely, those tires won’t be the only thing that will inevitably wear out. Still, it’s probably safe to assume that at least a few police departments will be seduced by the Caprice… so you’d better start burning that grille into your memory banks.

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MI State Police: Caprice Cruiser Creams Competition http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/mi-state-police-caprice-cruiser-creams-competition/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/10/mi-state-police-caprice-cruiser-creams-competition/#comments Fri, 08 Oct 2010 19:42:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=367977 Chevrolet’s new Australian-built Caprice PPV killed the field at the Michigan State Police trials for 2011 models, winning 0-60, 0-100 and top-speed comparisons, the braking competition and turning in the fastest average lap time. Dodge’s Charger nipped at the Caprice’s heels, but the day belonged to Holden. As predicted [unofficial results including Ford's Taurus-based cruiser […]

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Chevrolet’s new Australian-built Caprice PPV killed the field at the Michigan State Police trials for 2011 models, winning 0-60, 0-100 and top-speed comparisons, the braking competition and turning in the fastest average lap time. Dodge’s Charger nipped at the Caprice’s heels, but the day belonged to Holden. As predicted [unofficial results including Ford's Taurus-based cruiser available at Jalopnik].

Picture 592 Blowout Picture 594

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Hello, Charger http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/hello-charger/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/09/hello-charger/#comments Tue, 21 Sep 2010 23:09:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=366386 As Sajeev points out, America’s police forces could well be the savior of large, rear-drive sedans in the American market. Which is hugely convenient for Chrysler, which recently spent big bucks updating its 300/Charger LX platform. Much to the chagrin of Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, in fact. A devotee of per-platform volume-based “industrial logic,” Marchionne […]

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As Sajeev points out, America’s police forces could well be the savior of large, rear-drive sedans in the American market. Which is hugely convenient for Chrysler, which recently spent big bucks updating its 300/Charger LX platform. Much to the chagrin of Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne, in fact. A devotee of per-platform volume-based “industrial logic,” Marchionne has publicly stated that he would never have spent the money to update a platform with so few “applications,” had he been in charge during the Cerberus era. But winning police fleet business could change all that, and Chrysler is clearly going all out for it.

The 2011 Dodge Charger has not been shown anywhere in civilian guise, but several outlets including the Detroit Free Press have snapped shots of the new sedan testing for police buyers. Given Chrysler’s well-documented struggles with fleet sales addiction, giving police fleet buyers the first look at an “all new” car is an interesting move. Discuss the looks all you want, what I want to know is will consumers go crazy for a cop car? GM obviously doesn’t think so…

(Courtesy: Detroit Free Press) (Courtesy:Detroit Free Press) (Courtesy: Automotive News... and Jalopnik) (Courtesy:Detroit Free Press) (Courtesy: Detroit Free Press) (Courtesy: Detroit Free Press)

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License And Registration, Please: Will You Be Pulled Over By A BMW? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/license-and-registration-please-will-you-be-pulled-over-by-a-bmw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/license-and-registration-please-will-you-be-pulled-over-by-a-bmw/#comments Mon, 22 Mar 2010 14:27:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=349913 As the avid reader of our cop car chronology and our on-going coverage of crime-buster conveyances knows, that market of 75,000 units a year in the U.S.A. alone is in a bit of a turmoil. The Crown Vic, holder of approximately 70 percent of the fuzz market, is about to be retired. Ford, GM, and […]

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As the avid reader of our cop car chronology and our on-going coverage of crime-buster conveyances knows, that market of 75,000 units a year in the U.S.A. alone is in a bit of a turmoil. The Crown Vic, holder of approximately 70 percent of the fuzz market, is about to be retired. Ford, GM, and Chrysler want to get a bite out of that crime-driven market. Not to forget a little known company, curiously and politically incorrectly named “Carbon Motors.”  Since our own Sajeev Mehta directed our attention towards Carbon, it got a little quiet around the formerly Atlanta, now Connersville, Ind. based upstart that wants to build dedicated police-mobiles. Until today.

Today, Germany’s Automobilwoche [sub] reports that Carbon Motors “ordered more than 240,000 diesel engines for their new super police car E7.” And where did they order the engines? From Germany’s BMW. The Bavarians can’t believe their luck. “Never before has BMW sold so many powertrains to a third party,” says Automobilwoche. The Bavarians will sell more than the engine. The whole shebang comes with the cooling, exhaust, and slushbox system. The powertrains will be built in BMW’s engine plant in Steyr, Austria. First deliveries will be made in 2012. Speaking of carbon, the BMW engine promises a 40 percent better mileage than other, unnamed contenders.

But an order for 240,000 engines? So far, the Carbon company, founded by former Dallas police officer Stacy Dean Stephens and former Ford executive William Santana Li, has collected 12,500 reservations, says USA Today. Maybe Carbon, which now calls itself a “Homeland Security Company” has just landed a big carbonated order. Or they are making it up.

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Curbside Classic: 1964 Ford Galaxie 500 Police Interceptor http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/curbside-classic-1964-ford-galaxie-500-police-interceptor/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2010/03/curbside-classic-1964-ford-galaxie-500-police-interceptor/#comments Fri, 12 Mar 2010 19:08:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=348751 Finding Andy Griffith’s cop car on the streets of Eugene wasn’t exactly high on my predictability scale. But I’ve finally thrown that away, and nothing surprises me anymore. As far as I know, Deputy Barney Fife grew a ponytail, headed to Eugene and is using his old Mayberry cruiser in a ruse to keep the […]

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Finding Andy Griffith’s cop car on the streets of Eugene wasn’t exactly high on my predictability scale. But I’ve finally thrown that away, and nothing surprises me anymore. As far as I know, Deputy Barney Fife grew a ponytail, headed to Eugene and is using his old Mayberry cruiser in a ruse to keep the cops away from his grow operation. But there it sits, and it being Cop Car Friday, it’s now yours to ponder its existence on a side street off 1st Ave. But since its light isn’t flashing  and might not hold your attention sufficiently, let’s also do a mini-history of the cop car.

What’s obvious is that this is a fake, since police departments didn’t spend their money on top-of-the line Galaxie 500 trim cars. They would have been riding in a stripper Ford Custom, if Ford was their choice of Cruiser, which was reasonably common enough. Well, actually, by the sixties, Dodges and Plymouths were taking a big chunk of the police car market, but Mayberry wasn’t exactly representative of the real world. And Ford obviously had a product placement deal with the producers of The Andy Griffith show.

I did a little I Tubing last night in hopes of some footage of the ’64 version of Sheriff Andy’s car, but no such luck. A brief glimpse of a ’63, and a ’65 was about it. But there is this short clip of a typical Barney Fife routine with a first year season ’60 Ford (the show ran from 1960-1968). (You Tube, embedding disabled).

From old articles and such, it seems that Fords were particularly popular cop cars during the flat head V8 era of the thirties through the early fifties. The V8 was a tad more powerful than its competitors, although not nearly as much as legend might suggest. In fact the OHV Chevy six nipped at its heels most years, and some years like 1953, was rated higher than the Ford.

Allpar has an excellent article on the history of Chrysler Corp. police cars (naturally), which even claims that a test (slightly suspect) by the Greeley  CO police department of 1935 Ford, Chevrolet and Plymouth models showed the flat head Plymouth six outrunning the competition by a healthy margin, with a top speed of ninety, compared to 82 for the Ford and 78 for the Chevy. Ringer?

In 1949, the new Ford offered overdrive, which combined with the 100hp V8 made it the fastest of the low-cost Big Three. But Mercuries with the bigger flathead were also popular, and big cars like the eight cylinder Chryslers were not uncommon.

That Allpar article also points out that most early cop cars were of the business coupe variety, lacking a back seat. Perhaps their large trunks made a safe way to haul a suspect to jail. And it wasn’t until 1956 that Chrysler began to advertise its police and taxi fleet cars, and offer the first official police package. Detroit’s horsepower war of the late fifties played right into the growing market for police cars, and bragging rights to the fastest police cars became the flip side to the muscle car era of the times.

The police car business became increasingly competitive, and I remember vividly the accusations of bribes when Baltimore County switched from decades of Fords to Chevys in 1968. Well, corruption was rampant there anyway, but the ’68 Chevy was might appealing, with its 396 engine and slotted rally wheels through which to admire the new disc brakes. The Ford FE 390 couldn’t touch the new Rat Motor, as if it really mattered anyway, in Balto Co.

But there’s no doubt that Chrysler engineering was particularly appealing to hard core police work. In the pre-disc brake era, Chrysler offered big 12″ drums that were as good as it got. Here’s an excerpt from that article about a cop stopping a runaway tractor-trailer truck:

A Nevada Highway State Trooper, while patrolling in the mountains near Sparks in his 1957 Plymouth, spotted a tractor-trailer going down the mountain. The driver signaled wildly that the air brakes had gone out. The Trooper wheeled around in a “bootlegger’s turn” at 40 miles an hour. He then accelerated to over 120 mph to catch the run away truck. Momentarily blocked by on coming traffic, the Trooper had to stay in line behind the free wheeling 18 wheeled monster. He clocked it at 85 mph, as it was accelerating climbing towards 90. As soon as he got clear, the Trooper accelerated past the roaring 60 tons of rolling menace. Once in front of the tractor, he backed off the throttle, slowly allowed the tractor’s front bumper to contact the rear of the Plymouth. Using his service brakes, the Trooper steadily pumped the brake pedal, keeping the front bumper of the truck against his car. At first, it didn’t seem to have much affect. However, with smoke coming from all four of the Plymouth’s service brakes, the speed began to steadily decrease. Slowly, then more rapid. 80…75…65…60…50…then 40…30…and finally down to 20 miles per hour where the tractor driver was able to stop by using his transmission downshifting, and the soft edge of the road. It was a good thing because the Plymouth had precious little left to give. As the Trooper stopped the two front tires explosively blew out from the tremendous heat. The fins and truck area were bashed in, as well as pushed downwards from the force of the weight of the truck. However, Once again, MoPar engineering had saved lives! Had that truck entered the small town at the base of the mountain, who knows how many could have been injured or killed.

It might also be relevant to know that hardly all police cars were the high performance versions. Chrysler offered three distinct levels: the six cylinder “Sentinel” for economical city operations; the “Metro Patroller” with a mid-level V8; and the “Pursuit Special” with the highest output big-block V8. A 1964 Dodge Polara with the 413 wedge had a top speed of 129 mph.

But the real golden era for high speed cop cars were the 440 powered Dodges and Plymouths, as favored by the CHP. A 375 hp special-cam 440 in a 1969 Polara sedan held the record for fastest police car, timed at 149.6 mph at the Chelsea test track. That would not be bettered for twenty five years, when an LT-1 powered 1994 Caprice finally took the crown away.

But the years in between those two were a deep valley. Smog controls and CAFE regs utterly destroyed cop car performance in the seventies. The absolute nadir was in 1980 and 1981, when the Dodge St. Regis police cars came with no more than a 318 rated at 165 hp. According to the allpar article, this sad “police pursuit” topped out in CHP testing at 105 mph without the light bar. Since I was an inveterate speeder in CA during that time, I know as a matter of fact that these Dodges petered out at about 90-95 with the light bars installed (and flashing). Don’t ask.

It was a major embarrassment for the CHP when this became public knowledge in California, especially since radar was banned at the time. If the CHP couldn’t keep up behind you to pace you properly… Anyway, there was a good reason the CHP grabbed the first batch of new Mustang GT coupes available for pursuit work as soon as they became available in about 1983 or 1984. Yes, it all seems like a distant dream now, when speeding was still a fun cat and mouse game, with a level playing field. Or unlevel, in the case of the St. Regis.

We haven’t talked much about this Ford car, but if it had been a top-line pursuit car, a 390 would have been under the hood, since the 427 was not police-friendly, and the 428 was still a few years away. That alone helps explain Chrysler’s popularity with the police departments during this era. But it’s probably just as well that any seriously fast cars were kept well away from Barney Fife.

More new Curbside Classics here

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