Written by By Jesse Byrnes, CNN
Was the future of cop cars a success or a miss? In November, the new police vehicle the Cop26 was shown for the first time, in Vancouver, Canada.
“There has been a huge reaction from the public,” said Sgt. Randy Fincham, a Canadian police officer. “People are really fascinated by this car. It will give the guys on the street a brand new tool.”
While automakers boast that this or that new gadget can make their cars safer or more efficient, perhaps there’s one product that defines SUVs: police vehicles.
There is certainly a lot of anecdotal evidence that the cop car isn’t dead. Based on police responses and public comments, we’ve assembled a few examples of how cop cars — current and former — are still strong.
Back in 1999, just a few years after the birth of the modern, fuel-efficient SUV, New York City was reported to be scrounging for resources to combat its $1.4 billion budget shortfall. So, at an emergency budget hearing, NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir said police wanted to buy four new police cars and “build one from scratch.”
“We really want a hybrid, and we’re not going to wait,” Safir said at the hearing. “What would it take? Four billion dollars and a 100 horsepower engine?”
While the intentions were lofty, some questioned the practice. Two months later, CBS News reported that the police would be buying a few actual cars, but more than half of them would still be scrawny SUVs.
That was still a pretty good deal, considering the cost of operating a gas-guzzling SUV: up to $50,000 per year.
But New York didn’t stop there. The city set the standard for most of the major cities in the US. It mandated that cars patrol New York streets be cost-neutral.
Bonds for the poor
Not much about the Washington, DC, police department is secret. And that’s partly thanks to the security team that writes about policing for a living.
Among the chief’s interests is policing the city’s public schools — it’s such a big community that the city promised to build three new schools. But, as Dana Segal’s 1996 article on the department states, to do that, the department needs “a shiny new police car.”
So the department purchased three $140,000 versions of the Ford Explorer that proved too big to seat its own officers.
Ultimately, the school system approved only one and turned to the department for a second, zero-emission hybrid.
Strangely, the department rejected the Flexible Hybrid police car based on cost. In a follow-up article, Segal reported the department felt the Flexible Hybrid — full size and full metal — was too large and “would detract from the image” of the Seattle Police Department, which was also trying to sell large, efficient hybrids.