By Jordan W. Charness
Rumour has it that it started in the big cities and has now spread to several provincial police forces as well. Even the RCMP may have them. Patrolling the streets these days you may, or may not, see a new type of police car: this vehicle is the standard size, shape and colour of an ordinary police car and even contains at least one police officer, but it is very different than the others.
Depending on the police force, there may be more or fewer police markings than a normal police car, but make no mistake, when a police officer wants your attention, they will get it even if he or she is driving one of these special cars.
Many police forces have now purchased specially painted patrol cars that have police markings on the sides but very often have plain hoods and no visible patrol lights. From the side they are very obviously police cars but from the front or rear they are indistinguishable from any other similar make and model of car on the road.
The police are now using these sneaky cars in several ways. The police officers I’ve spoken to who have used these cruisers say that they are very effective in catching people who don’t expect a police car. They say that these vehicles have been instrumental in catching drivers who are in the habit of rolling through stop signs and ignoring red lights. This type of driver will very often make a quick scan looking for police cars before breaking the law.
They are not much good at catching speeders since most speed traps are conducted from a stationary position at the side of the road and most people who see a car parked on the side of a highway will likely slow down anyways. Similarly in the city, most policed speeding operations are conducted by laser operators standing slightly hidden at the side of the road and they have no need for a partially unmarked police car.
These cars however have been proven most effective in those jurisdictions that make it illegal to drive and talk on a cell phone at the same time. Many drivers perform a careful search of the cars around them before putting their cell phones to their ears. These cop cars however are not visible as police cars until the officer turns on the lights that are hidden in their grills and crank up their sirens.
In virtually all cases, these cars are staffed by uniformed police officers who make it perfectly clear that the vehicle that is flashing its coloured hidden lights at you is a legitimate police vehicle. Once it pulls up beside you all doubt will disappear as you’ll see the markings on the side of the car and the cops inside.
Claiming that you didn’t see the cop is not considered a valid excuse for breaking any type of traffic law. The only good news is that these special cars are somewhat more expensive to produce and those police forces that have them only have a few of this type at their disposal.
Having a visible police presence is still the most valid deterrent to those who would ignore the rules of the road, and now these secret police cars are one more weapon used against those who break the law.