By on February 20, 2019

You can’t fight city hall, the saying goes, but you apparently can fight the state of Indiana in the U.S. Supreme Court and win. That’s what former addict Tyson Timbs learned today, after the Court returned a unanimous decision that overturned a ruling by the Indiana Supreme Court.

It seems the Eighth Amendment’s Excessive Fines Clause does apply to individual states. The fight that began over a seized $42,000 Land Rover led to a victory for those fearing financial ruin from sky-high fees, fines, and asset seizures. (Read More…)

By on January 28, 2019

Ever since Ford discontinued the Crown Victoria Police Interceptor, it’s become much harder to watch out for cops. Initially, you just had to keep tabs on any Dodge Charger in dark paint, but that quickly evolved into drivers becoming suspicious of every monochrome Explorer, Taurus, Durango, Tahoe, or Fusion Hybrid on the road as law enforcement began adopting the models for official use.

A police department in Fremont, California has added a Tesla that list, garnering tons of media attention in the process. However, after looking into the story, it seems Fremont is only testing a single, second-hand Tesla Model S 85D it purchased a year ago to see if the model is fit for service. Considering this is the same city where Tesla manufactures the vehicle, one would think the Fremont Police could have worked out some kind of deal with the factory. However, what interests us — and probably the department — most is figuring whether or not the 2014 Model S can actually hack it beneath the thin blue line.  (Read More…)

By on January 4, 2019

Image: Ford

After rocking the same design with only minor alterations since 2011, Ford will soon debut an all-new Explorer. Arriving this year as a 2020 model, the model adopts the modular CD6 platform shared with Lincoln’s Aviator, making the new version of the venerable SUV rear-drive biased once again. New powerplants are also on the way.

Before we lay eyes on the new ute, however, Ford wants to show us, once again, the Explorer’s law enforcement brother: the Police Interceptor Utility, which the company first revealed under the cloak of darkness last June. We now have light. A wildly common sight on North American roads, the new version of the copped-up Explorer is all about nabbing bad guys … and saving departments money. The vehicle you see here arrives with a standard hybrid drivetrain. (Read More…)

By on November 7, 2018

ford explorer police interceptor utility

While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s probe into reports of exhaust gasses leaking into the cabin of certain Ford Explorers continues, the company doesn’t have to worry about the brakes on its law enforcement variants anymore.

After launching an investigation into front brake hose failures — at the request of the Sacramento Police Department — in 2015, the NHTSA returned the verdict this week. Nothing inherently wrong with those front stoppers, it said. It seems the Sacramento PD really, really pushes its vehicles in pursuit training. (Read More…)

By on October 12, 2018

The large country just north of Cleveland will make it legal to buy and consume marijuana on October 17th, no doubt turning the air in this author’s neighborhood even skunkier that it already is.

With the lifting of prohibitive laws comes new driving-related legislation designed to crack down on stoned drivers and placate a somewhat nervous public. Problem is, law enforcement’s tool chest remains pretty bare. The one government-approved method available to cops to check if a driver is stoned — a saliva test — might not work if it’s cold out. Whoops.

Don’t worry, though — there’s always a blood test. It’s the only way to ensure the not-always-accurate saliva test returned a true reading, but there’s a big problem with that, too: time. (Read More…)

By on October 4, 2018

Image: RU2 Systems

Modern society seems to be divided into two camps — those who say, “If you aren’t doing anything wrong, why would you have a problem with [expanded government power A]?” and those who drop their copy of Reason in horror as each new measure designed to make society “safer” erodes their perceived freedom just a little bit more.

The former group will cheer this news, though the latter camp will surely decry our steeper descent into a Surveillance State. Those annoying roadside signs that flash your current speed might soon record your plate number. (Read More…)

By on July 20, 2018

The U.S. Department of Justice is demanding that Georgia Sheriff Butch Conway reimburse the government for his procurement of a 707-horsepower Dodge Charger Hellcat, which it does not believe falls under the umbrella of reasonable purchases for a police department.

However, the DOJ isn’t questioning whether the department could make use of such a vehicle, as the federal government already approved its purchase. It just isn’t sure that Conway is being responsible with it, since it sounds like the Gwinnett Country Sheriff may be using it as his daily driver.  (Read More…)

By on June 13, 2018

Image: Ford

As you learned here, the 2020 Ford Explorer adopts the rear-drive platform found beneath the upcoming Lincoln Aviator, as well as the luxury division’s top-flight engine. A twin-turbo 3.0-liter V6 of unspecified power will appear under its hood and mate to a 10-speed automatic, a source tells us, while the 3.3-liter V6 found in the F-150 replaces the current 3.5-liter unit. The 2.3-liter EcoBoost four-cylinder carries on unchanged for thrifty buyers.

Oh, and there’ll be a hybrid version, too. Ford’s only willing to talk about the electrified Explorer at this point, and on Tuesday it made the unusual choice of debuting the 2020 Explorer in fuel-sipping felon catcher guise.

Enter the Police Interceptor Utility hybrid. (Read More…)

By on May 10, 2018

Image: FCA

Once upon a time, fearsome variants of conservative full-size sedans roamed America’s highways en masse in search of speeders and felons, but the emergence of the SUV as the preferred tool of law enforcement relegated the traditional four-door car to the back of the pack.

It’s no wonder why Ford had no problem ditching the Taurus. Some 80 percent of the automaker’s police fleet orders specify the Police Interceptor Utility — a butched-up Explorer — instead of its sedan stablemate. Chevrolet’s Tahoe PPV offers law enforcement a more rugged SUV option.

Not wanting to be left behind in the switch to high-riding cop cars, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles has debuted a competitor — the Dodge Durango Pursuit. (Read More…)

By on May 7, 2018

Any number of unpleasant things can befall a motorist after an unexpected, police-initiated roadside stop. Asset seizure being just one of the dangers. Of course, suspected drug use can also ruin your day, as well as your life.

For an Ontario woman pulled over for speeding on the I-75 in Cook County, Georgia, the item that landed her in jail was exactly what the officer asked for: a driver’s license. Sorry, wrong country, she was told. (Read More…)

By on April 30, 2018

There are many people who feel every federal agency does not require the kind of machine gun-toting SWAT teams that have proliferated in Washington over recent decades. Also, for 140 years, since the passing of the Posse Comitatus Act, Americans have thought that keeping military and police functions separate is a good idea. In recent decades, as billions of dollars worth of surplus military equipment was made available to American police agencies following the first Gulf War and subsequent military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq, concern has been raised over that equipment leading to both militarization and corruption of local police and sheriff’s departments.

Still, from coagulants designed to staunch battlefield wounds to Global Positioning Satellites originally used by our military, some technologies are just too good to be restricted to being used to break stuff and kill folks. Now, a direct energy “ray gun” developed to protect military installations from car and truck bombs could have civilian uses. The device focuses microwave energy at a vehicle, overloading its electrical system and causing the Engine Control Unit to reboot over and over, disabling the vehicle. (Read More…)

By on March 3, 2018

We’re not capable of brilliance 24 hours a day. The mind demands rest, nourishment, stimulation. And old cars. Wonderful, alluring, Eisenhower-era cars.

As sleep doesn’t come easily for yours truly, you’ll often find a YouTube window open on my computer late at night. Sometimes its comedy, sometimes it’s tornado videos, and more often than not — lately, especially — it’s syndicated reruns of an old show some nice fellow uploaded to the net. It’s not a groundbreaking, award-winning show. It’s not high-minded. There’s no identity politics. Complex plotlines and witty dialogue? Get the hell outta here, pal.

No, the sole appeal of Highway Patrol (1955-1959) is the cars. (That, and identifying the scenes where: (a) actor Broderick Crawford is drunk, and (b) Crawford doesn’t have a driver’s license.)

Smog-blanketed southern California in the late Fifties. Could there be a more glamorous locale? (Read More…)

By on March 2, 2018

public domain

A bill seeking to amend Virginia’s DUI laws passed through the state Senate last month, but don’t expect the law to make it onto the books. The legislation aimed to make intoxicated driving legal if a driver performed the boozy feat on his or her own private property, with all other existing laws remaining the same.

As you might expect, this didn’t go over well with law enforcement, politicians, safety advocates, and various other concerned citizenry. (Read More…)

By on December 12, 2017

car crime theft

Florida lawmakers are pushing a new bill that would make it illegal to have your car stolen if you haven’t bothered to take the keys out of the ignition. While accidentally prepping a car for prospective thieves is easily one of the dumbest things you can do, making it illegal to leave it running while you pop in to buy a pack of gum sets us up for a nice slippery slope argument.

Last week, State Representative Wengay Newton and Senator Perry Thurston introduced matching proposals (House Bill 927 and Senate Bill 1112) that would make leaving your car unattended without stopping the engine, locking the ignition, and removing the key a second-degree misdemeanor. Under the Florida statute, the crime would be punishable with a $500 fine and up to 60 days in jail. (Read More…)

By on November 21, 2017

It’s one of the great scenes in modern cinema: Kevin Costner as Eliot Ness and Sean Connery as Malone, the beat cop who requires no proof of Eliot’s claim to be a Treasury Agent because, “Who would claim to be that, who was not?”

Yet there are people who falsely claim to be police, for various and nefarious purposes ranging from to getting a discount on lunch to raping 11 women. This kind of offense is punished with all possible severity, and for the most understandable of reasons: a society where we cannot easily recognize police is a society where enforcement of the law will become increasingly dangerous for all parties involved.

Then you have the crowd that doesn’t want to actually impersonate a cop; rather, they simply want to be briefly “mistaken” for a cop on the freeway, often for no reason other than the petty narcissism of believing they are frightening or impressing fellow motorists. As you’d expect, these people gravitate towards used police cars, which they often retrofit to vaguely resemble undercover or unmarked units. It’s a common enough practice that the Internet has coined a word to define the practitioner: “Wacker.” (Read More…)

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