unmarked patrol cars


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fchavis
August 23, 2006, 04:05 PM
Well, I'm about to start sending some letters out, but I wanted to run this by the community here first to see if you all think I have a legitimate grievance. I live and work within a 20 mile radius of Richmond, VA and have noticed disturbing trends regarding the latest breed of unmarked police cars.

First off, I want to make it clear that this is certainly not a general LEO bashing thread, but one that I hope will shine a little light on a police practice that could easily be exploited by the criminal element, to the great detrement of public well-being. I've always thought that unmarked cars were a bad idea. At first they just gave them an inconspicuous paint job; then they started using unmarked Cameros. As a side note/story/example: on the tail end of a road trip (about two years ago) and I was close to home and speeding. It was 3:30 in the morning and I saw in my rearview mirror a sports car tail-gating me very closely, I mean he was 5 feet from my bumper. I got a little worried and sped up, to get around the cars in the right lane and switch over, but he kept on me. When I did make it over, he followed me and I started getting REALLY worried that this was going to be some sort of trouble (this was before I had my ccw, and was not THE reason I got it, but it did contribute), but then his lights came on. Now, I deserved the ticket originally, but the officer gave my top speed as what I had gotten up too trying to get away from him, and the only reason I was going that fast was because I was concerned for my safety. What bothered me latter was that I had pulled over only because I saw his lights, and they were the kind that fit inside the car. That was the only thing I could see. What would have happened if it turned out not to be a cop? I could have just payed the ticket, but I went to court to try to tell the judge what had happened, but he backed the officer.

I tell that story to demonstrate one of the traffic enforcement practices that I think are unsafe. Not only was the officer driving a car that could not be identified as law enforcement, but tail-gating like that could cause an accident and get innocent people hurt.

What this post was originally about, though, is that the unmarked cars around Richmond (maybe the rest of VA, but I havenít spent much time driving around out there) now have completely regular license plates indistinguishable to normal citizens; maybe the start with certain letters, but they never told people what to look for. They have NOTHING that identifies them as law enforcement other than concealed blue lights. No light rack on top, no government plates (the big one in my book), no outside spot light, and no paint job.

That is DANGEROUS. Anyone can put lights in their car and start pulling people over, then robbing or killing them, and if I recall correctly, just that happened in Florida, or some such. I know it is illegal for people to have those lights, but it is also illegal to murder anyone and just look at how that has stopped crime in Richmond. I havenít been pulled over in about two years, so I don't want anyone thinking that my arguments are retaliatory in nature; I think there is a legitimate problem here and one that needs to be fixed.

So what do you all think? I may take this to the city council, whoís sessions are public and partly televised so that I can get the word out. I reason that it is very difficult to fake a more obvious cruiser, as a legitimate officer would see them immediatly, and react accordingly; but if all they need is a set of blinking lights and a public that has been aclimated to such police cars, the area is ripe for criminal activity. Anyone notice a similar trend where you live?


-Jon

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WayneConrad
August 23, 2006, 04:15 PM
1) Unmarked cars just aren't Truth, Justice, and the American Way.

2) Tailgating is unsafe no matter who does it. It's annoying, ain't it?

3) But... speeding up when being tailgated or followed does not increase your safety in any way. Bad choice. I agree with the judge.

4) If being followed by an aggressive car, call 911.

5) Same for getting pulled over by an unmarked car. Slow down, use the dome light or blinkers to acknowledge that you know the car is trying to pull you over, drive safely and calmly, and get on the horn to 911. It's perfectly alright to request a marked car or to ask the 911 operator to confirm that it's a legitimate stop.

Deanimator
August 23, 2006, 04:48 PM
4) If being followed by an aggressive car, call 911.

5) Same for getting pulled over by an unmarked car. Slow down, use the dome light or blinkers to acknowledge that you know the car is trying to pull you over, drive safely and calmly, and get on the horn to 911. It's perfectly alright to request a marked car or to ask the 911 operator to confirm that it's a legitimate stop.
What if you don't have a cell phone? I wouldn't have one if it weren't part of my employment.

If a questionable vehicle tries to pull you over, you should drive to the closest police station... if you know where one is. Otherwise you should find the largest concentration of people you can... possibly difficult at 3:00am. The latter of course won't guarantee that somebody won't murder you, but at least there will be a lot of witnesses to your slaying.

Pilgrim
August 23, 2006, 04:56 PM
If you had stood on your brake pedal before he lit you up, you could have gotten a new paint job and more.

Pilgrim

Roadwild17
August 23, 2006, 04:57 PM
I have already give my GF very clear instruction on this because a few years ago there was a serial rapist/murder that use this same technique.


1. Acknowledge the officer (hazards however)
2. Call 911 and request ATLEAST confirmation it is a real unmarked unit or get a marked unit onsite.
3. Drive to the busiest place w/ a lot of light that you can find and pullover & wait for the person to get out, if it’s not a cop stomp it; OR drive until a marked car arrives.

To any out here who may think this is wrong, I would rather stand by her in court than at her ferial.

cbsbyte
August 23, 2006, 04:58 PM
Connecticut State Police Crown Vics patrol cars are unmarked, (though it seems they are starting to use marked white crusiers on the interstates) come in solid colors such as gray, Drk Blue, brown and tan and come with regular licenses plates. Some have light racks though now most don't. They have been doing this for at least three decades. During the day time it is easy to tell if it is a police car since it will have a spot light, mulitable rear antennas and a metal plate attached to the rear bumper with State Police written on it.
http://members.fortunecity.com/statepdcars/conn09.jpg

In Mass the State Police have distinctly marked cars with light blue doors and roof with state police on the front and rear of the car. Not all have light racks on the roof. Though I have seen a few times, unmarked Ford Mustangs on the Pike with dark tinted windows, antennas on the roof and State Police license plates.
http://members.fortunecity.com/coxfan/mass156.jpg

From the marked 1989 Corvette to the unmarked 2005 Mustang. It looks almost civilian but has the radar detector mount on the drivers side window. Also no front plate. The black car to the left is also another MSP Mustang

http://members.fortunecity.com/coxfan/mass173.jpg

Nio
August 23, 2006, 05:02 PM
...we don't have to stop for unmarked cars. The Sherrif has repeatedly stated that in public forums because criminals have used the tactic so much down here.

Nio

HankB
August 23, 2006, 05:45 PM
Texas has had problems with fake cops - a couple of years ago, right here in the Austin area, a wacko had his car tricked out with lights and was pulling women over. He wasn't the first, either.

I remember, years ago, that the Warshawski and J.C. Whitney catalogs were full of "police cruiser" lights, sirens, you name it . . . no doubt a google search will turn up many more sources today.

For that reason, I won't stop for an unmarked car - being unmarked, the vehicle is, by definition, not identifiable as an LEO vehicle. More disturbing, sometimes the unmarked cars are operated by plainclothes officers - but YOU DON'T KNOW IF HE'S REAL OR NOT, AND CAN'T TELL BY LOOKING AT HIM!!

I'll try to drive to the nearest police station - if a marked police car comes after me before I reach it, I'll stop ASAP and comply, but unmarked - uh-uh.

fchavis
August 23, 2006, 06:18 PM
As far as the tail gating incident goes, I completely agree that I could have handled it much better and that experiance taught me a lot (on many levels), but I wasn't the only one driving dangerously that night.

My big point here and what drove me to post in the frist place (the other incident was a side note) is that the new unmarked patrol cars here are COMPLETELY INDISTINGUISHABLE from their non-LEO counterparts unless you are stopped directly behind them at a red light and can look into the car and see the tiny light block and the driver's computer (imposible at night). They have no external markings, NONE. Their licence plates are NO DIFFERANT that anyone elses, 3 letters, a dash and 4 numbers, same coloring and no additional lettering what so ever. They do not have spot lights or multiple antennas. The only thing I can say about them that is not negative is that the couple I have seen (4 now all differant colors) is that they were either crown vics or impalas. They are solid colors, but then the vast majority of cars out there are also single colors. It is dangerous and I am going to do my best to get the word out and the trend changed. There to much crime in Richmond (probably everywhere) to be spending this much money on traffic violations and I can't see how this is not going to end very badly for a lot unsuspecting motorists who thought that only cops could have those little blue lights.

It also could be a publicity stunt. They expend inordinate resources handing out speeding tickets and then get face time on the news (which they have been doing very often), talking about how they are cracking down on crime, while they are targetting the easy to catch crimes and bragging about how many offenders they nab. There are a whole lot of things wrong with this and people need to start speaking up.

Monkeyleg
August 23, 2006, 06:27 PM
Back in the late 60's, when I was a punk, the narcotics division of the Milwaukee Police Department used regular plates on their unmarked squads, not government plates.

But they got their plates renewed all at once at the end of the year. So, if you saw a car following you with plates that started with Y11, you knew they were narc's.

fordfan485
August 23, 2006, 06:30 PM
I saw one of those new impalas today going down I-64W. Couldnt tell it was a cop car until I was right next to him and looked over, slowed down a little after that. But I agree with you completely.

Gordon Fink
August 23, 2006, 06:30 PM
As Iíve said before, minor traffic stops serve only to find contraband and to get cops killed. We would all be better off without them.

~G. Fink

Art Eatman
August 23, 2006, 06:35 PM
Florida changed their law about unmarked cars and traffic stops after a scared college coed ran from an unmarked car, wrecked, and died. Before she died, she managed to tell the medics her story.

Her father, a state senator, was not pleased...

It seems to be at least custom, if not the law, in Texas that an officer in an unmarked car radios to an officer in a marked car in order to make the stop.

I guess I would contact various elected people, and the head of whatever law enforcement agency is using unmarked cars for traffic stops, and point out the hazards. The Florida experience is pertinent, and the Texas method is sensible.

Art

JohnBT
August 23, 2006, 06:40 PM
"It also could be a publicity stunt."

This isn't new. It's not a stunt. For all I know the cars are donated, confiscated or bought with drug money.

If you want evidence of a publicity stunt that cost a lot of money go take some pics of the Interstate signs that warn us about the planes monitoring our speed.

And slow down and move over, you're in my way.

John the speeder.

shell70634
August 23, 2006, 06:41 PM
In Jefferson Parish, Louisiana...we don't have to stop for unmarked cars. The Sherrif has repeatedly stated that in public forums because criminals have used the tactic so much down here.



Is that RS 32: Harry Lee?

big44
August 23, 2006, 06:46 PM
I live in Virginia also. I was in law enforcement back in the early to mid 80's and at the time we didn't use unmarked cars. However, they do now. From my personal point of view I think the marked cars have a bigger impact on reducing crime. The problem I see with it is there are so many criminals out there posing as police officers that it's dangerous for women especially to stop for unmarked cars.

But another thing that bothers me here in VA is the number of private police departments (hospitals, colleges, etc) springing up whose cars look almost identical to local departments. While I think we have way too many useless laws on the books I think that it should be against the law to have paint schemes that resemble local or state police.

bakerj
August 23, 2006, 06:46 PM
I love the crown vic drivers around here who adorn their dash and package tray with tissue boxes, red and blue hats etc... all symetrically arranged to give the impression that they are driving a police car. Saw a guy last week with the full kit. Box of kleenex centered on dash, four corners of dash and rear window with alternating blue and red ball caps and the best was a pair of red plastic flower clusters on the top windshield corners held up by the visors. :D

sm
August 23, 2006, 06:48 PM
Gets back to intent IMO.

In any profession there are good and bad examples.

We had Blue Light Rapist take regular cars, some were "similar" to unmarked cars, some were just about anything one could imagine and their "Intent" was to catch ladies out , pull them over. Just flash a blue light behind victims

Our State Police issued warnings and protocol to civilians and Officers and on the passenger door is the State Police markings on door. This marking was / is not on Driver's door or anywhere on the vehicle.

Now I know for fact and for a long time Unmarked vehicles of all sorts have been used in a reponsible manner by LEO. All sorts of investigations are on going, these folks are not giving tickets, and many may in fact be Undercover LEO. I knew of and had friends as UC. Anything from a six cylinder Maverick with "three on the tree" to 'Vettes, Porche's, BMWs, to pickup trucks.

I mean a plain vanilla truck for a UC working illegal cock fights makes sense - don't it?

Intent.

My point is folks abuse Professional and Non- Professional Roles.

When I worked in the Main OR we had an understanding with State, County, and Local Police, we were on call and if we were called , it was legal for us to "run with flashers on, at a safe prudent speed".

This did not mean I/ we coulod hit 120mph, it meant I/we could run say 75 in a 60 if traffic allowed at that time of morning [ wee hours for me] to get to Hosptial.

We had a bunch of folks , not Hospital folks, from all sorts of walks of life speeding - actually racing at 2 am on our freeways with flashers on.

I almost got tagged and bagged one night heading to an emergency at the hospital having been called in

Trooper later came by, and shared how the Jag, Benz, Bimmer and Porche were clocked at ~ 140 mph racing...all with flashers on. A new wee hours game the movers and shakers were playing.

I was doing 65 in a 55 zone and the trooper "figured it was you[me]" and that Porche almost ended up in the bed of my truck and I had gone to the shoulder as far as I could.

Intent.

We have a few older Ford P/U trucks watching the roads around here by LEO - tag with radar and radio ahead to a marked unit.

jaysouth
August 23, 2006, 07:03 PM
Fchavis,

Specifically, which jurisdiction was this in? city of richmond, Henrico country?

If it was in richmond, you can yell and scream all you like, they don't care. They have created an alternative universe that they live in. If you don't represent thousands and thousands of indigent blacks, you don't count. The police are incompetant and riddled with lazy affirmative action supervisors. As long as they get their checks, they don't care and you and common sense don't count.

Henrico, on the other hand is squeaky clean. They had a policy of not making traffic stops with unmarked cars. This once resulted in the death of a state trooper, but they stuck to their guns.

Nio
August 23, 2006, 07:30 PM
In Jefferson Parish, Louisiana...we don't have to stop for unmarked cars. The Sherrif has repeatedly stated that in public forums because criminals have used the tactic so much down here.

Is that RS 32: Harry Lee?

Yep. Gotta love Harry.

Nio

Mark Whiteman
August 23, 2006, 07:42 PM
We've had sporadic problems with fakers around here, but for the most part, its been stories in the media that raised concerns. The local PD even had something in the paper about what to do if you had doubts whether it was a real cop. Basically, don't open your door, ask for ID, if you are afraid to stop at all, go to the nearest police station or public place. But don't expect much sympathy if it is a real cop with a uniform, the right badge, ID, and a citation. It didn't help they closed down public access at all precincts except the one downtown at night.

fchavis
August 23, 2006, 07:47 PM
Jay:

I saw one on the western portion of 288 (just south of 64), one in Chesterfield, one on 64 within Richmond city limits and one on 64 somewhere between Richmond and Williamsburg (been doing most of my driving on I-64 of late). These were all within about a week and a half. The unmarked cars with gov plates (I think? never really started looking until now) and external spot lights (I always saw these first) are everywere and have been for a long while now. I've seen them in red, dark green, white, and a couple of shades of blue.

JohnBT:

as far as the publicity stunt bit goes, I dont mean to imply that it is the sole act of the police departments, but more one by the executive positions, if there is one at all.

Steve in PA
August 23, 2006, 08:05 PM
So..........because the unmarked car doesn't have a light bar and government plates, you have a problem with that?

What part of "unmarked" don't you get? Your state may mandate front and rear plates, but what if only rear plates are required? How are you going to tell from in front of the vehicle whether it has government plates on it or not?

Lack of a light bar, radio antenna's, etc..........again, "unmarked" means unmarked.

Most PD's will not do traffic stops with "unmarked" cars. PD's with unmarked cars make their officers aware of the problems they may have with motorists and as long as you acknowledge the lights flashing in your rear view mirror (slow down a bit, turn your flashers on, drive to a well lit location, etc).

Unmarked cars serve a valuable purpose. Ever hear the phrase, "every little bit helps"? So all those minor traffic stops, all those easy to catch crimes have an effect. So now, according to some, the PD's should do nothing about all the easy crimes???? Should not do traffic stops because they get officer killed, etc.

A never ending source of amusement :rolleyes:

MD_Willington
August 23, 2006, 08:12 PM
I saw one of those new impalas today going down I-64W. Couldnt tell it was a cop car until I was right next to him and looked over, slowed down a little after that. But I agree with you completely.


We have the Impala and Malibu IIRC in Eastern WA also, along with the Fords in solid colors.

The Fords still have the standard police rims on them though, small chrome cap in big black steel rim, or no chrome cap in big steel rim, from what I've seen... pretty much a giveaway.

SMMAssociates
August 23, 2006, 08:21 PM
Don't forget Chessman in CA a few years back....

Locally, the City PD's unmarked units - very many years ago - were ordinary Ford Customs with blackwall tires and "beanie" hubcaps. License plates were in the form of "YPD-12"....

I think that was to help the Supervisors keep an eye on the field troops....

Regards,

GoRon
August 23, 2006, 08:52 PM
nmarked cars serve a valuable purpose. Ever hear the phrase, "every little bit helps"? So all those minor traffic stops, all those easy to catch crimes have an effect. So now, according to some, the PD's should do nothing about all the easy crimes???? Should not do traffic stops because they get officer killed, etc.

I'm not that comfortable with paying government employees to hide behind bushes so they can catch someone going 6 over the limit just to collect revenue.

All traffic enforcement should be done with marked cars IMHO.

junyo
August 23, 2006, 09:23 PM
The long pedal makes it go grandpa.<Flashes headlights ar JohnBT> C'mon, c'mon! The one thing I don't miss about living in VA is the whole state wide speed trap deal. Most of the police cars on the I95 corridor probably still have my "Brought to you by" sticker on them.

Yep, it's dangerous. But they've been doing it for years, and make ridiculously good money off of it, so no, it won't stop. Not only do they go unmarked, and with all due respect to jaysouth, Henrico has a fleet of them, and not only does stops with them, but in at least one instance I witnessed, with a car/officer that was unidentifiable until he got out of the car (...wore an unmarked coaches jacket with his cap on the passenger seat, drag raced ricers, popped the lights at speed, hopped out and took off the jacket, put on the hat, and wrote the ticket. Watched him do that routine multiple times in an hour.) Maybe it's a policy put into place in the last couple of years. In any case, in NoVA the state police use drug seizure cars, I've seen the grill on more than a couple dubbed Escalades light up. Around Richmond you can learn to spot them based on the paintjob rims and hiding/patrol spots... most of the time. And Chester's not that bad IME. And not only do they vigorously enforce the current speed limits, the cities/counties can and will manipulate the roads themselves to give them greater opportunity to do so (...hiding spots and launch pads built into the road during construction, speed limits lowered when the road didn't generate the expected ticket revenue). There is no political will to do anything for drivers because the response that they've conditioned the public to believe is "you shouldn't be doing X in the first place". Blahblahblah public safety, yadayadayada if the police are stopping you, you must be a criminal. Good luck with those letters.

Of course the stated logic behind unmarked cars is that they serve as a deterent since you don't know where they are... which ignores the facts that a)if I'm already speeding then they weren't that effective of a deterent, b) a marked car functions as a more immediate and proactive deterent, c) and if the supposed goal is public safety, wouldn't the solution that tended to make me not speed in the first place be preferred over the one that simply punishes me after the fact, and d) aren't marked cars safer for the police too?

All that said, I've always taken/given the advice Deanimator gave: If you're not sure they're actually an officer, acknowledge their presence without compromising your safety, and continue to drive until you find a police station, a marked car, or a brightly lit public place with lots of people. Better to have them tack on a fine for failure to stop than end up dead (or worse) by the side of the road somewhere.

Gordon Fink
August 23, 2006, 09:24 PM
If you must enforce minor, asinine traffic laws, you should do it in the same way more and more cities are starting to catch red-light violations. You use a camera and mail a citation.

~G. Fink

JohnBT
August 23, 2006, 10:56 PM
IMO the State Police play fair on the Interstates. Based on the people I've seen pulled after they've passed me, you usually need to be going 10+ or maybe 15 over AND doing something rash like running up on people before swinging out to go around, cutting them off after passing, or changing lanes without signaling.

Want to drive 90+, well, you're going to get a ticket sooner or later depending on your luck.

OTOH, they really needed to crack down on I-95/I-64 through Richmond and all along I-81 in the Valley. I admit to cruising at 10 over and passing at 10 to almost 20 over and there are still plenty of folks going by me (and most of them seem to be on the phone, too.) I love the right lane BTW. I hit it going up hills and slow a tad before the crest, loaf down looking for a trap near the bottom and roll on up the other side. Why does everyone want to hit the high numbers going downhill? That's where the cops are.

If the semis are loafing along keep your eyes open. If all the empty semis are loafing something is up. Don't want to keep an eye peeled? Slow down.

Of course, I'm driving a silver Forester and not red Mustang or black SUV with tinted windows. The last ticket I got was in '86 and that was dismissed when the judge got tired of listening to my lawyer yakking.

John

JohnBT
August 23, 2006, 11:00 PM
Speaking of unmarked vehicles, anybody know if Maryland is still parking broken down plumber's vans and other junk vehicles on the side of the D.C. beltway to hide their radar guns in?

JT

RustyShackelford
August 23, 2006, 11:38 PM
In OCT 2001, I was doing security work in an apartment complex in Orlando FL. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks the property managers wanted me to start checking all vehicles/visitors on the property for security reasons. I saw a grey Chevy Corisca sedan with no police logos, lights, or equipment going around the parking lots at a high rate of speed. The vehicle also didn't have the yellow license plates that most public service vehicles have on the back. I spoke to the vehicle's occupants(2 males, white and black, both armed but wearing plainclothes who claimed to be police officers) and informed my manager that the car was in the complex. The white male officer was very rude and unprofessional. He became irrate and and asked me who the property manager was. I explained to the officer who my manager was and where to find the rental office. The "police officers" went to the office and when they left, the white male turned to me and said; "WHAT"S YOUR PROBLEM?". I calmly told the police officers that I was required to check all unknown vehicles and visitors. I then asked both men for their names(they refused). I also asked the black officer for his business card(he refused). The only information they would give me is that they worked for Altamonte Springs PD. The apartment complex is in Orlando. Law enforcement is under the Orange County Sheriff's Office. I contacted the Altamonte Springs police chief and informed him of the incident. The Office of Professional Standards did an investigation and a ASPD LT later told me how the officers should have been "more professional" in how they dealt with the incident. The officers used poor judgement and displayed a lack of respect for the public. LEOs need to understand when they are armed not everyone will know who they are or what they are doing if they are working in plainclothes.

Rusty
:cool:

Deanimator
August 24, 2006, 10:38 AM
But they got their plates renewed all at once at the end of the year. So, if you saw a car following you with plates that started with Y11, you knew they were narc's.

When I was a kid working as a delivery man for a photo developer in Chicago in the '70s, all of the unmarked Chicago PD cars had license #s that started with "ZA". I spent a lot of time in the loop around police HQ and used to see them all the time.

If I remember correctly, there were some fake cop car problems back in the '80s on I-57 outside of Chicago.

tuna
August 24, 2006, 11:15 AM
I was driving a country road one night - 10-11PM or so. I had a "donkey" tailgating me for a while. He didn't have his hibeams on, but his lights were pretty bright anyway. I slowed down, more to irritate him than anything else, and he got RIGHT on my rear end. Next thing I know, I've got blues in my mirror. It was a marked PD car, but he was so close I never knew it (didn't notice him really until he was on my tail).
He pulled me over for crossing the double line. I told him I was paying more attention to him tailgating me. I figure he was looking for drunks - he just let me go, so it may be a tactic to fluster drivers to see if they are impaired.
I guess it works. I'm not a huge fan of cops, or being hassled, but I like drunk drivers even less. And it was a pretty small town, so he probably didn't have anything better to do (no sarcasm, it was a TINY town) - so nabbing drunk drivers works for me, as long it just delays me (sober driver) for a minute or two.

cavman
August 24, 2006, 11:53 AM
I have always had a problem with the concept of unmarked cars. "Secret Police" has always come to mind.

I respect the Uniform, and if I see some guy cruising down the road in his Trooper car, the same thing.

However, some schmo in a red mini-van!! who I saw pulling someone over outside of richmond on I-64E, no, I am sorry, I can 't respect that person or how he does his job.

have a great day,
cavman

steveracer
August 24, 2006, 12:40 PM
...is NOT for revenue generation, but for public safety. How is it safer to have unmarked cars?

Creeping Incrementalism
August 24, 2006, 12:44 PM
I knew a guy who used a generic construction/road work rotating beacon to pull people over, then drive off, just for kicks. I always thought it would be great to have one of those handy, to use on anyone who filpped me off, but nah... that's going too far, though it makes me chuckle :evil: to think about it.

In Sierra County, California, which is in the mountains with a population of about 1000 people, this one deputy thought he was righteous pulling over every car he could in an effort to find drunks. In California, if someone is on the side of the road, the cop can make a "safety stop" to check it out. So what this guy would do at night is tailgate people, and when they pulled over to let him pass, use the "safety stop" excuse to talk to them to try and bust them for drunk driving. It got to be so annoying that a local who would be a nobody anywhere else (I love small towns sometimes), asked the Sheriff if he planned to run for re-election. The Sheriff said yes, and the local said, then you might want to do something about that deputy. The Sheriff ended up firing him, which amounted to 1/5 of his deputies.

Regrarding unmarked cars on highways in California, they do 15 over the limit, just like nobody else, and don't pull anyone over. However, in the past few years, low light bars have certainly become all the rage.

Sleeping Dog
August 24, 2006, 12:56 PM
I love the crown vic drivers around here who adorn their dash and package tray with tissue boxes, red and blue hats etc...
What's the point? Other drivers, like the one in front of you, is just going to slow down to the speed limit or below.

I'm not a cop, and my car doesn't look like a cop car, so other drivers are happy to do 5 or 10 over. That's good, I don't want them to slow me down.

roo_ster
August 24, 2006, 01:06 PM
Unmarked cars for UC or workaday detective work? Yep, that is a good idea. Unmarked cars for traffic enforcement? The term "knuckleheaded" comes to mind.

mbt2001
August 24, 2006, 01:39 PM
I think that law enforcement should be visable. I don't like the idea of the police driving around in unmarked anything and spying on people. I think all cop cars should be marked and the laws loosened up. We KNOW who the bad guys are. They are not hiding. Why don't we just throw them in the clink...

Surprises me the lengthes that people will go to "save one life" but known criminals are just walking around...

Strange.

Car Knocker
August 24, 2006, 01:45 PM
Surprises me the lengthes that people will go to "save one life" but known criminals are just walking around...

Ummm. probable cause, evidence - little things like that???

Bubbles
August 24, 2006, 02:57 PM
Speaking of unmarked vehicles, anybody know if Maryland is still parking broken down plumber's vans and other junk vehicles on the side of the D.C. beltway to hide their radar guns in?

Yes, they are.

Derby FALs
August 24, 2006, 03:24 PM
I have always had a problem with the concept of unmarked cars. "Secret Police" has always come to mind.

I respect the Uniform, and if I see some guy cruising down the road in his Trooper car, the same thing.

However, some schmo in a red mini-van!! who I saw pulling someone over outside of richmond on I-64E, no, I am sorry, I can 't respect that person or how he does his job.

have a great day,
cavman

Don't be running down our protective echelon. :what:

buzz_knox
August 24, 2006, 03:38 PM
Texas has had problems with fake cops - a couple of years ago, right here in the Austin area, a wacko had his car tricked out with lights and was pulling women over. He wasn't the first, either.

There was a wacko doing the same thing in Clarksville, TN a while back.

Oh, wait. He wasn't a wacko. He was an actual cop looking for dates by pulling attractive women over. :uhoh:

MechAg94
August 24, 2006, 05:41 PM
I was told that Texas has a law that said traffic enforcement had to be done with marked cars and the officer in full uniform. However, I heard they got rid of that law several years ago so I don't know what the rule is. Personally, I have never seen a traffic stop without marks car(s) at the site.

pete f
August 24, 2006, 05:56 PM
For a while in college I dated a girl who was drop dead gorgeous, too high maintenance for a life time commitment but :what: she got your attention.
She would get stopped by police an average of once a week, who would ask her dumb questions and then a day or two later she would get a phone calls from them.

At the same time I was dating her, my primary ride was 73 Suburban
that I bought from the ILL DoC that they used as a prisoner transfer van for the road side gangs. It was a 454 4 spd 3/4 ton with a massive steel hitch plate for towing a trailer with all the equipment on it. Driving from Chicago to Mn after being home to visit the above girlfriend, I was being followed really close by someone with no lights on. I sped up and they followed right there ten feet off my bumper, I slowed down they did the same, I slammed on the brakes HARD and they did not. Big bang, I got shoved across two lanes of traffic and barely kept it under control. I pulled over to the side and looked back as the Wis state trooper slowly rolled down the embankment. He had no light bar but he did have the sticker on the door. He came staggering up the bank big huge cut on his head. About 20 minutes later there were ten or fifteen state troopers all around. The first one there deals with him, the second one cuffs me. Then someone in command came up to me and asked me what happened, I told him. someone was tailgaiting me with no head lights on in the middle of no where, and a deer ran across the road. Head guy walks to where the troopers car was and looked at the head light switch. Comes back and takes the cuffs off me and lets me go.


Right now there is a lady who was on dateline or 60 minutes who is serving time for refusing to acknowlege an unmarked trooper who wanted to pull her over on a deserted road. she popped on the flashers and drove slowly toward town. When a marked patrol car pulled up, she pulled over. The cops went to full felony stop on her and she was all upset and confused and trying to do what they said but she ended up getting charged and CONVICTED of felony evasion. The dashboard cams showed the whole thing and I can say that jury is insane.


Re traffic enforcement. All traffic enforcement is done for the purpose of revenue enhancement. All traffic enforcement is driven by the insurance industry as well. They write grants to LEO depts based on the amount of tickets and points they assess drivers as this directly fills the insurance industry coffers in the forms of higher premiums. There is very little if any connection between speed and insurance costs, provided you remove alcohol from the equation. Most drivers who speed on clear dry roads when tickets are written have lower than average accident rates. just a dirty little secret the insurance industry does not want you to know.

SMMAssociates
August 24, 2006, 06:14 PM
Haven't looked for a while, but OH used to require marked units for traffic.

However, a little bit of fine print ("unit to which you are regularly assigned" or something like that), made a bit of a loophole.

Currently, the little bitty "hidden" light racks - including some of the rooftop low profile units - make about any marked unit more or less invisible unless you're on top of it.

One of the reasons why the Township PD is now painting their cars white....

You might not see the rack (and some of the cars don't have them - "marked" doesn't require a light rack), but at least you'll see a vehicle. Maybe....

Regards,

Coronach
August 24, 2006, 06:22 PM
Still does require that. State patrol, etc, all are required to have marked cars. Unmarked cars can be used to investigate a crime, but the traffic stop itself must come from a marked unit.

Mike

Creeping Incrementalism
August 24, 2006, 06:23 PM
Then someone in command came up to me and asked me what happened, I told him. someone was tailgaiting me with no head lights on in the middle of no where, and a deer ran across the road. Head guy walks to where the troopers car was and looked at the head light switch. Comes back and takes the cuffs off me and lets me go.

That is the single funniest traffic cop story I've ever heard, so good, it had to be told twice. :)

Norm357
August 24, 2006, 07:03 PM
Tis a violation of State Law for the Police to work traffic in unmarked cars here in GA.:neener:












Norm357 has been married to a cop for 13 years.:D

Parker Dean
August 24, 2006, 07:06 PM
I was told that Texas has a law that said traffic enforcement had to be done with marked cars and the officer in full uniform. However, I heard they got rid of that law several years ago so I don't know what the rule is. Personally, I have never seen a traffic stop without marks car(s) at the site.

Yeah, they use 'em. I've been pulled over by a Trooper in a silver Intrepid who lied about my not using signals to go around another traffic stop, cursorily checked my ID, and sent me on my way. Trooper was in uniform. Another Trooper was close by in a maroon Impala, sans trunk wing. He was also in uniform. These were mixed in with a wolf pack of marked Crown Victorias.

Another trend I don't care for is the blackout tint. First issue is that since such tint is not allowed on private vehicles, why should it be on a public vehicle? The other is that since you can't see into the car they could be doing anything in there. Dark scenarios like presented in The Shield come to mind first. I know why they SAY they do it, but why invite the speculation?

Something else is the amount of lights, strobes, hidden lights and other assorted techno-eye candy being liberally applied to any vehicle even remotely associated with a police department. It's the good old "we have money and we better spend it" garbage, but come on people!

hardcorehunter5
August 24, 2006, 07:44 PM
Well it seems that most people that replied to this are the anit-coppers. First in California you do not have to yeild to an emergency vehicle unless there is a red light. I dont know if that holds true for most states, but nation wide companies that sell law enforcement equipment with not sell you a light bar or rearview mirror light bar, that has a red light without department letter head. If that law applies to your location it is a safe bet you are being pulled over by a Cop.

Everyone can believe what the want about traffic enforcement, but it is a necessary evil. There are to many people out there that in danger others, because their lack of skill or concentration while driving. I have investigated enough traffic accidents to know this first hand.

This last one is direct at Gorgon Fink. Your profile says your are public servant. Well you are serving no one if all you think about traffic enforcement is that it is to look for contraband and get cops killed. Traffic enforcement saves lives and protects protects. Just because a person gets pulled over for a traffic violation doesn't mean they get a citation. Letter of the law and spirit of the law. Finding contraband is a bonus and the risk of getting killed goes with the job we knowingly accepted. What is asinine if my assumption is correct that you are a police office; "public servant" that you believe you are a good one!!!!

solareclipse
August 24, 2006, 08:15 PM
unmarked in this state cannot pull you over. it's awesome, you can fly by them (and everyone does) and just wave. often they wave back

steveracer
August 24, 2006, 08:27 PM
I think we're all pretty here, girls, and can chill out for a minute.
Let's face it: Per driver there are many times less accidents in Europe than here.
Per driver there are many more traffic stops here than in Europe.
In Europe, people drive very fast on the highway in very fast cars, but not really all that fast in regular grocery-getters. I have been the fastest car on the road over there at only 95 miles per hour. Not what I would call terribly fast. Everybody drives in the right lane, and passes on the left. THERE ARE NO UNMARKED POLICE CARS on the highway in Germany, Italy, UK, Austria, Switzerland, and France. People don't slow down when they see a police car there, because they are there to stop drunks, maniacs, and respond to accidents/emergencies. Here it is a different story. Here we have to weave in and out of traffic because idiots are driving in the left lane at the same speed as the people to their right. This is a much bigger danger area than the car doing 90.
Worse, by far, is the sudden realization that the guy tailgating you at 85mph is a police car, only not marked. Great, now, if you stand on the brakes, you are both admitting guilt and making the road unsafe for the cop. If you don't, you are oblivious to your surroundings and dangerous. If you speed up, you are posing a danger to the motorists around you, bacause you are a speed demon.
Can you win? Yep. You can join the highway patrol. Never met a larger collective of good men, with good intentions, doing good work, and being terribly hyppoctritical all at once.
My hat's off to cops. It's a hard job that doesn't pay well.
I respect you all. I admire your courage and your fortitude. I think every single one of you who uses the badge to drive faster than me, who is obviously a dangerous criminal, driving more than 20mph over the limit, should be given a booklet of parking tickets to pass out, and an electric scooter. Permantently.

bmwmcars
August 24, 2006, 08:53 PM
IMHO... the use of unmarked cars for traffic stop purposes is ridiculous and poses a significant danger to the general public. Using them for all sorts other purposes is just fine by me. But to add to that, If I call the cops at 2am for an intruder or some other issue, I expect a marked car to show up, not an unmarked.

The cars are tools, no different than any other asset LEO have at their disposal. Tools should be selected based on a number of criteria, not the least of which is ability to do the job, but also which will cause the least amount of collateral damage. Cops dont run around throwing grenades into movie theaters, while it may kill the BG, there is way too much collateral damage.

Unmarked cars being used by LEOs, which are then inturn impersonated by BGs to facilitate commision of a crime, is by my view collateral damage.

just my .02

Gordon Fink
August 24, 2006, 09:14 PM
This last one is direct at Gorgon Fink. Your profile says your are public servant. Well you are serving no one if all you think about traffic enforcement is that it is to look for contraband and get cops killed. Traffic enforcement saves lives and protects protects.…

You will notice that I was dismissing minor traffic “violations” (“speeding” on an empty road, burned-out taillight, failing to signal on an empty road, etc.). I have no problem with reckless or impaired drivers being intercepted. I do have a problem with folks getting pulled over as a thinly veiled pretext to search for contraband or enhance revenue.

I’m not a cop, but I hate to see cops killed and citizens harassed. If you must cite people for minor violations, mail them a warning or fine notice, rather than a risk a potential confrontation or roadside accident.

~G. Fink

dillonuser
August 24, 2006, 09:58 PM
I do not believe in using unmarked cars. Where is the "deterence"? If there is any,I can't see it.

Sindawe
August 24, 2006, 10:06 PM
The only deterrence I can see to using an unmarked vehicle for traffic enforcement is when other drivers see the unmarked vehicle pulling over another driver.

There is a spot on Baseline here around Boulder that gets pretty heavy patrolling by both an unmarked vehicle (large, dark gray new pickup) and a bicycle officer who "hides" in the bushes with a radar gun. He's sorta grumpy I think, since he NEVER waves back when I raise my hand in greeting as I drive by. :D

fchavis
August 24, 2006, 11:15 PM
I'll be the first to admit that unmarked cars have their place in law enforcement, but not in traffic stops. It seems like VA has some of the worst offenders out there, as they DEFINATELY use unmarked cars for traffic stops and that there are all sorts of varieties and no standardization of the makes of the vehicles. It conditions the public to only look for the blue lights, as there are no other identifying features at all, and that is a dangerous vulnerability that has been shown in other locals to put the public at risk. Any VA residents have ideas about who to talk to?

hardcorehunter5
August 25, 2006, 12:58 AM
Steveracer great opening line. I think the difference in Europe is people pay a premium to drive a vehicle. I talking in the thousands of dollars. Not every tom, dick, and harry are driving around. Secondly were there are no speed limits the road is constructed to last longer, be a smother ride, and the turns are slight in order to keep the high speed. And with that high speed the vehicles are engineer to handle the speed. All people drive fast, but only few know how.

One piece of advice regarding the main topic. Realize that if you are not stopping to a law enforcement vehicle, that officer will assume you are evading him and will act accordingly. Hopefully if a Office is in that situation he will realize that someone may not recognize him. I would like to say don't be over paranoid about being stopped by a unmarked, if legal to do so, the odds are pretty good you can tell it is a real cop upon his exit from the vehicle.

hardcorehunter5
August 25, 2006, 01:02 AM
Gordon Fink-

I respect and understand what you are saying. Keep in mind that by mailing a ticket we are then only citing the vehicle and not the driver. The driver of the vehicle my not be the registered owner of the vehicle, so someone receives a citation and may not be the violating individual.

kengrubb
August 25, 2006, 01:21 AM
The Washington State Patrol recently purchased several unmarked Dodge Hemi Chargers for targeting aggressive drivers.

Otherguy Overby
August 25, 2006, 01:38 AM
I'm of the opinion that an unmarked car doing traffic is driven by a felon. There should be a law obsolving any citizen from all claims, civil and criminal, in shooting and/or killing an LEO imperonator. Stealth cops should not be exempted. IOW, get out of an unmarked cruiser during a stealth stop it should be open season.

What I'd like to see (never happen) would be something like "Real Stories of the Highway Patrol" where an officer got out of an unmarked car was shot and killed by an honest citizen on the unmarked cruiser's video cam and then acquitted...

Wouldn't even need to feed any hogs. :evil:

Diomed
August 25, 2006, 03:39 AM
The use of unmarked units in Virginia does seem to be on the rise of late. Why aren't there any bills to eliminate the practice? Wait, I know the answer. The agencies and localities would see their revenue streams cut. Can't have that, heavens no. :rolleyes:

Right now there is a lady who was on dateline or 60 minutes who is serving time for refusing to acknowlege an unmarked trooper who wanted to pull her over on a deserted road. she popped on the flashers and drove slowly toward town. When a marked patrol car pulled up, she pulled over. The cops went to full felony stop on her and she was all upset and confused and trying to do what they said but she ended up getting charged and CONVICTED of felony evasion. The dashboard cams showed the whole thing and I can say that jury is insane.

Huge Catch-22. The public is always told that if they feel unsafe, drive to an area where they do feel safe to finally pull over. Of course, actually doing this means you're assuring yourself of a ticket at best, and taking your life into your hands at worst.

Traffic enforcement is nothing but revenue enhancement with a dash of authoritarianism for flavor.

c_yeager
August 25, 2006, 03:55 AM
Unmarked cars are usefull and appropriate for a lot of law enforcement duties, but they simply dont make sense for traffic enforcement.

Zach S
August 25, 2006, 10:04 AM
I dont have a problem with unmarked cars. Most unmarked cars anyway. I once had someone tailgating me, so I took a side street and took off. Literally took off. I was driving a car that weighed less than 3000lbs with a mild 302, and the car tailgating me was, what a later found out to be, an FWD V6 Impala. A few minutes later, I was pulled over by a marked car... Long sotry short, the officer was understanding as to why I took off.

The tailgating gets on my nerves. Roll up close enough, long enough to read my tag and then back off.

In my area, I've seen unmarked Durangos and an F250, the only reason I know about the F250 is I saw it stop someone. I cant spot an unmarked Camaro, but I'm sure they have them. Most of the NCSHP camaros I've seen had the paintjob, as well as "state trooper" painted on the nose and rear hatch, but they dont have any lightbars on top. Considering they'll do 160+ off the showroom floor, the lightbar probably puts too much drag on the car, if the wind doesnt pull it off first.

As someone who drives a decomissioned cop car, unmarked cars do get on my nerves sometimes. Last night I got out the door late to get to work. I followed a car for a good bit of the way doing 43 in a 45, where traffic moves around 55 or so...

Oldtimer
August 25, 2006, 10:04 AM
You might want to see if you can get your state's "Emergency Vehicle Operation" manual. Some states FORBID unmarked police vehicles from being used for traffic stops. Other states require that the police vehicles have a 2-tone paint job (magnetic signs placed on the doors can qualify as a second color). In most states, an officer CAN NOT create a dangerous situation (tail-gating?) when enforcing traffic laws. Most states have minimum requirements for the emergency vehicle lights that are used for pulling over traffic violators.

The least you can do is to find out what your state laws are before going to court. You might find something that would be a "violation", and that might mean that the citation you got would be deemed "invalid"!

Raptor5191
August 25, 2006, 12:28 PM
Watch out...we also monitor with black helicopters and super-secret squirrel radio waves.

Sheesh.

Derby FALs
August 25, 2006, 12:33 PM
we also monitor with black helicopters and super-secret squirrel radio waves.

You wish...

:neener:

buzz_knox
August 25, 2006, 12:36 PM
In most states, an officer CAN NOT create a dangerous situation (tail-gating?) when enforcing traffic laws.

How about when they are just breaking traffic laws? ;)

Daniel T
August 25, 2006, 12:43 PM
Watch out...we also monitor with black helicopters and super-secret squirrel radio waves.

Well, the black helicopter bit is true, so the squirrel thing...? ;)

I've seen unmarked cars used for revenue-generation plenty of times. APD enjoys using their new black F150s, and there's a DPS trooper that patrols 183 in a black CV pretty regularly.

SMMAssociates
August 25, 2006, 01:30 PM
As someone who drives a decomissioned cop car, unmarked cars do get on my nerves sometimes. Last night I got out the door late to get to work. I followed a car for a good bit of the way doing 43 in a 45, where traffic moves around 55 or so...
Zach:

As a rent-a-cop "on the road" many years ago, my POV was a genuine "wannabemobile". A green Rambler Ambassador (this was about the same time as LAPD was using Matador's for patrol vehicles) with a 5" spotlight and assorted extra antennas. "Personal" plates, and when working, a magnetic sign. Locally, nobody much cared, so a red "gumball" and a couple of big turn-signal lights lived in the rear window. I had a couple of 8" blues in the grille in one - I actually had two of these over the years - but don't remember which one this is about.

I had to take a run into New Castle PA. That's about 20 miles from my front door. At the time, PA was running unmarked traffic units. I got behind a guy out on the Highway who looked in his mirror, saw the Rambler and the spotlight, and proceeded to stay at 45mph the whole way.... (Parts of the road were posted 55 or so at the time, and most of it's single lane with few opportunities to pass.)

As we got into New Castle and started to hit areas that were well lit, he figured out that I was from Ohio.... :fire:

The next car - after the two green Ramblers - was a Crown Vic. Dark blue.... I brought it home, put a single antenna on it, mounted the radio, and forgot about it. Never got into another similar situation - with one exception - but "What do you call a late model luxury car speeding down the road with extra antennas on it?" "Police Brass late for lunch." :eek:

Then there was the time, right after seat belts became a secondary offense, when some guy in a very old car apparently was leaving work at our mall, and just came flying out in front of me. I'm sure he looked in the mirror and spotted the blue Crown Vic, 'cause he spent the next half-minute or so trying to get his seat belt on. No spotlight on that car. The wife was starting to get upset by stuff like that, and I was already very rarely on the road by then. (The next car - and now the current one - only have a hi-band radio and a CB HT for travelling.)

Traffic? We were never permitted to do any traffic other than direct traffic at an accident. On "our" properties, we could warn errant motorists, or even call the local PD, but that was about it. So, as I always put it. "I don't give out tickets. I get 'em...."

I'm reminded about a "Mad Magazine" parody some decades ago describing driving through "Zeke's Corners" where Zeke pulls up next to you in a 1929 Essex and challenges you to a race. Naturally you win. Then Zeke pulls up alongside again and shows you his badge.... Then you get to meet his brother-in-law the Judge....

Regards,

Art Eatman
August 25, 2006, 02:46 PM
As usual, the only solution to the problem--and using unmarked cars for traffic stops is a safety issue--is to put pressure on the elected critters. Loudly and often.

An example: "It's for the children." WHAT IF a mother and child, a bit over the speed limit, were being followed by an unmarked car, and she got scared and tried to speed away and then crashed? "If it will save just one life..."

The newsies would love it. It's controversial...

Art

RustyShackelford
August 25, 2006, 02:49 PM
IMO, LEOs should only be allowed to use "unmarked" vehicles in limited conditions. If I were a police chief or sheriff I'd only allow marked LE vehicles to make traffic stops and/or conduct traffic enforcement. I think New Mexico has state laws about this issue. They only allow marked LE cars/uniformed LEOs to do traffic enforcement.

Over the years I've seen several incidents of fraud/waste/abuse by LEOs and fake LEOs who caused major problems for the police agency or community they were working in. I recall a string of attacks in the Pittsburgh area by a guy claiming to be a state trooper. I've also seen small town LEOs get in major FBI/DoJ problems for traffic stops that spun out of control.

LEOs and public service supervisors/managers should develop traffic enforcement methods that are fair and increase public safety. Not look for ways to trick drivers or play games. Many LE agencies/public service managers(mayors/city managers/police chiefs/etc) want to pass the buck or dodge their accountabilty to avoid civil lawsuits/bad PR. These are issues that can be avoided with proper training/supervision/policy.

Rusty S
:cool:

Art Eatman
August 25, 2006, 03:09 PM
Rusty, policy comes from the top. It's the elected critters and their appointees which need to be the focus of political efforts. IMO, the whole deal is to increase revenues from traffic fines when unmarked vehicles are used in traffic patrol. No other reason. That's why the safety issue can be used against it.

Most elected critters want their cushy jobs, or they wouldn't be there in the first place. Any jeopardy over a purely financial affair would have them shafting the taxpayer in some other pocket...

Art

lawson
August 25, 2006, 03:10 PM
my buddy recently bought a Crown Vic that was retired from the California Highway Patrol. his main issue is that everyone in front of him automatically slows down, and it takes him forever to get anywhere.

many of the cities in the Phoenix area still use the white Crown Vics with the spotlight and G plates, but several have switched to Silver Chevy Impalas (some departments are using Impalas for their marked cruisers as well)

i was driving back to my home on the south side from a meeting on the north side, and and i was being tailgated by a silver impala. it was still on me after several turns, so i turned into a crowded and well lit gas station (a Quik Trip, which often have LEOs hanging out in them due to their company policy of free coffee and counter space for LEOs to do paperwork). it was only as i parked that the Impala hit the lights. two officers came out of the QT to see what was going on, and the officer got out of the impala and approached my vehicle. i explained the situation, and he apologized for giving me a scare.

he then informed me that i had driven off with my briefcase on the roof of my car, which amazingly was still there. we all had a good laugh at my expense.

Gordon Fink
August 25, 2006, 04:32 PM
The driver of the vehicle my not be the registered owner of the vehicle, so someone receives a citation and may not be the violating individual.

That hasnít stopped the implementation of red-light cameras. Some fines may turn out to be uncollectible, but the end result is the same Ö if the primary concern is public safety.

~G. Fink

SMMAssociates
August 25, 2006, 06:01 PM
Locally, a Judge in the Warren OH area has forced the Girard City Council to remove a speed camera - State Law apparently requires a live Police Officer to issue citations.

I don't know if it still applies, but in PA the owner of the vehicle was the presumed driver in situations like this, but had the right to rat out his kids or whatever.

IAC, I object to the things because the folks providing the cameras get a cut, and are therefore provided with an incentive to set the trigger point lower than common sense might allow. Not to mention "conditions", which a human might note, but the defendant may not be able to prove.

Essentially, driving too slow or too fast with respect to the general flow of traffic, weather, or road conditions, can be a violation regardless of the speed limit. Note the "too slow" thing....

I especially object to the red light cameras. Pretty much the same thing - the camera providers have already shown a tendency to set the devices improperly, and sometimes you have to go through the light for your own safety, or that of others. An LEO is likely to be a little more friendly about it.... Not to mention the clowns who stop short or speed up to avoid the camera's interest.... :fire:

('Course, there was this idiot on a motorcycle who passed about four cars in line at a red light and drove right through it. He did slow down to check, but.... That's when you want a "red light machine gun".... :eek: )

Regards,

RustyShackelford
August 26, 2006, 05:14 AM
It's good to see PA and the PSP(State Police) set up these new state laws concerning unmarked LE units. The attacks by the fake PA state trooper took place in 1999/2000. It's sad that a string of violent attacks is what needed to push these policy changes in the PSP/state.

RS

TallPine
August 26, 2006, 11:54 AM
Some or all of the MHP cars now have the red/blue lights in the grill instead of on top, but the doors are painted and they have red and white state plates with numbers like "MHP-251" (a real number, btw ... I wonder if she ever visits THR...? ;) )


Something I used to hate when I lived in CO ... the large white cars with ski racks on top, with red skis on one side and blue skis on the other :D In the mirror they looked just like state patrol.

vito
August 26, 2006, 01:19 PM
I few years ago I was on my way to work on my motorcycle, on an Interstate with zero traffic at about 5:30 AM. I saw an older maroon Ford Taurus ahead of me, and when I slowed to check it out saw what appeared to be an old man behind the wheel. I went back up to my desired speed, about 25 over the limit and within about 10 seconds saw the hidden interior blue lights go on. When I stopped the "old man" turned out to be a State Trooper about 55 years old, in uniform (he had a non-uniform jacket on while he was driving) and I ended up with a hefty speeding ticket.

OB-1
August 26, 2006, 02:23 PM
I have a personal rule. I donít stop for unmarked police cars. Now, Iíve never had to test that rule of mine, and hopefully never will. However, if that day arrives, I will slow down, turn on my flashers and call 911 on the cell phone.

SwampFox
August 26, 2006, 04:47 PM
Unmarked cars and plainclothsemen doing "routine" stops somehow smells too much like secret police.

I am often on the road at 1:00-2:00 am and have had a number of instances where an unknown vehicle driving upwards of 80 mph on a winding two lane road will catch up with and tailgate me for miles.
Sometimes they will eventually turn around and go back the way they came and other times they will pull me over because "I may have been going a little fast/bumped the yellow line/looking for a vandal" of some other usually made up reason that a citizen dare not challenge in this situation.

Aside from the issue of harassing citizens who have committed no known crime, this behavior is inheriently dangerous in any situation. It is doubly dangerous in an area with a high deer population.

tellner
August 27, 2006, 04:14 AM
Is it wrong for me to call them "Pigs in a blanket"? :neener:

JohnBT
August 27, 2006, 09:54 AM
"It seems like VA has some of the worst offenders out there, as they DEFINATELY use unmarked cars for traffic stops"

I was hanging out with my father Friday and asked him about unmarked cars. They used them when he was a State Trooper 50 years ago, although they were usually given to the experienced Troopers, not the rookies.

Who to call about it?

I dunno. Doubt they're going to stop using them.

John

Praxis
August 28, 2006, 11:28 AM
I think this question fits in the general scope of the discussion.

Can anyone tell me why police officers tailgate you when they are "checking out" your car on the highway. A number of people in this thread mentioned the practice.

I've had this happen once when driving near Baltimore. An MTA (Maryland Transportation Authority) Cruiser came up behind me on I-895 and got right on my bumper. I was going the speed limit, 55MPH, and just set my cruise control and let the car go. He stayed behind me for a couple miles, then pulled up next to me for a few more miles, and finally gunned his engine and sped off. I'm sure he was running my plates, but what was up with the other behavior?:confused:

junyo
August 28, 2006, 11:48 AM
Can anyone tell me why police officers tailgate you when they are "checking out" your car on the highway. A number of people in this thread mentioned the practice.From what I've seen/experianced they're usually checking speed via pacing; ie driving the same speed as you and checking it on their speedo.

1911 guy
August 28, 2006, 11:51 AM
Some cops are idjits. Tailgating is a prime tactic to get someone to speed up and then bust them. Gotta make that quota, you know. Yes, I know there are good cops out there. I've actually met a few. Unfortunately, none of the good ones seem to be working traffic where they could be good PR for a dept. I can honestly say that every time I have had non-traffic interaction with a police oficer, it was handled well on both sides. Courteous, professional, even friendly. The few times I have been pulled over, however, were by morons on a power trip.

Art Eatman
August 28, 2006, 11:59 AM
Re tailgating: Maybe they're not paid enough to afford decent eyeglasses? Gotta get real close in order to read the license plates? "My cousin, Weakeyes, works at the copshop."

Just joking...

:), Art

Mainsail
August 28, 2006, 12:34 PM
This is only partially on topic, but I just picked up a Y2K Crown Vic Police Interceptor. Iíve been undoing some of the cop mods, like reconnecting the rear window switches and the horn. I removed the siren from the grill, the wires were cut anyway. The spotlight on the A-pillar still works but the gears are stripped out inside so it canít be aimed.

When Iím merging on the freeway now, people donít speed up to keep me from getting in and nobody tailgates me anymore. It handles like a sports car and has plenty of power.

Mark Whiteman
September 4, 2006, 02:23 AM
If its a Unity spotlight, they used to make replacement parts available. Dealers all over. Try Google. That siren speaker in fair shape? Model # on it? :D Re: tailgating, if you'd actually been stopped, there is a school of thought that the less "slack" you have when you "light 'em up", the less likely they'll feel they have a chance at running, if that's on their minds at all. Remember, it's considered a high risk thing to do, and they want to go home every night. Since you weren't stopped, I'd say it was a tactic to see if you'd "rattle". Drunk drivers many times will change the way they drive when being tailed. Drunk drivers many times will drive "too good", right at the limit, dead straight, trying to appear normal. Most people don't drive ridgidly like that. I dispatched for 28 years and spent a lot of time out with "the guys" before I started a family.

No_Brakes23
September 4, 2006, 02:29 AM
I have a personal rule. I don’t stop for unmarked police cars. Now, I’ve never had to test that rule of mine, and hopefully never will. However, if that day arrives, I will slow down, turn on my flashers and call 911 on the cell phone.

+1. A few years back in Cali after a string of rapes/beatings from people pulling over for unmarked cars, I made this decision as well. Shortly after CHP stated that they would no longer use unmarked cars, but who knows what they do now. Their "White" Crown Vics don;t look any different in the rearview than a civvie Crown Vic that someone took a J.C.Whitney catalog to.

Some cops are idjits. Tailgating is a prime tactic to get someone to speed up and then bust them. Gotta make that quota, you know.

MPs aboard MCAS Miramar used to be really bad about doing this. That's what clutch-checks are good for. Of course, I ususally move over anyway when a cop shows up, just out of courtesy.

SMMAssociates
September 4, 2006, 05:13 AM
I removed the siren from the grill, the wires were cut anyway.
Just happened to think....

Given the couple of screws involved, and that those speakers sort of start over $50, I wonder if that speaker is any good.

(Guessing that it's a speaker and not an old mechanical siren. Dunno if you can even still get those.)

Mark's correct about the Unity spotlights. They used to be about $25, and a new mount was under $10. The idea was to leave the mount and put the rest of the spotlight in another vehicle, until there wasn't much left. Prices are a lot higher now.... Mounting 'em was always a bit itchy for me - I only did a couple, but it took a long half-inch drill bit placed more or less exactly where the Unity people's template wanted it. Off a bit and you'd crack the windshield....

Some newer vehicles have very narrow posts.... Even tougher....

Be careful about the laws in your State. In some cases they're just not allowed at all (fake ones may get you stopped), but the thing to really worry about is whether or not you have to get one that's set up so it can't shine directly into the eyes of oncoming drivers. I'm not sure you can easily find that anymore.

All of that said, they're damned handy. I miss mine, although it's been about 28 years since I had one installed. (Old rent-a-cop.) Besides the usual LE stuff, they're super handy for finding the kid's girlfiend's house at night (that ain't a typo) on a dark street, and things like that. A big old MagLite in the console helps a little....

(Wonder what the wife would say if I put one on my '99 Town Car.... :eek: . I think I still have the drill bit.)

Regards,

agricola
September 4, 2006, 05:37 AM
FYI over in the UK its a part of the law that you dont have to stop for an unmarked police car, or police officer not in uniform, largely for that exact reason.

Flyboy
September 4, 2006, 01:07 PM
I dont know if that holds true for most states, but nation wide companies that sell law enforcement equipment with not sell you a light bar or rearview mirror light bar, that has a red light without department letter head.
...because I certainly couldn't order some red gel from the theatre-supply store and make my own red lights.

buzz_knox
September 4, 2006, 01:22 PM
From what I've seen/experianced they're usually checking speed via pacing; ie driving the same speed as you and checking it on their speedo.

And sometimes they are just jerks who know they can break traffic laws with impunity.

SMMAssociates
September 4, 2006, 01:38 PM
...because I certainly couldn't order some red gel from the theatre-supply store and make my own red lights.
Hm....

That's how I got amber front turn signals when that became the "new vehicle" standard. I even put 'em on a '31 Ford a buddy of mine was restoring.

A lot of the newer dash and headliner inside strobes/blinkers are LED based. Getting a white one and gelling it probably would make for a less-efficient light. Changing a dome on a motorized mirror type light is kiddie stuff, although you may run into a "letterhead" issue to find a replacement dome.

(Actually, a hand spotlight with a red gel probably would be sufficient for nefarious purposes.)

Talk about "times changing" - the local PD used to buy a whole fleet of cars every year or two, and the cost of swapping the "Fireball" roof lights (really bad choice, but they were cheap) was higher than just buying new ones. They'd give 'em to anybody who asked and wasn't known to be a "problem"....

I was involved with a "little theater" group about 40 years ago, doing lighting. Probably a few scraps of the stuff here someplace still. However, if it's still out there, "gel" is water-soluble. Not good in a car.... (But it was real cheap, and we had a small budget....) I used to "stock" a plastic material for some uses - a lot more money at the time, but gels tended to fade, which made my directors nuts.

Regards,

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