Police vehicles in the United States and Canada are made by several manufacturers and are available in three broad vehicle types:
Police Pursuit Vehicles (PPV) are the most common police cars and are equipped to handle the vast majority of tasks including pursuit and high-speed response calls
Special Service Vehicles (SSV) and Special Service Package (SSP) are specialized vehicles such as SUVs and sports cars and are generally heavier-duty vehicles that may come with specialized option packages that used for specific tasks but are not recommended by the manufacturer for use as pursuit vehicles.
Ford's introduction of the Ford flathead V-8 in its Model B in 1932, the first low-priced, mass-marketed car with a V8 engine, gave it brand loyalty that allowed it to capture the police car market until 1968. In the 1940s and 1950s the Big Three began to offer specialized police packages with severe duty parts. Foremost among these was the Ford package of 1950, which utilized the larger and more powerful Mercury engine in the smaller, lighter Ford. This ended the practice of some state police of buying larger, more powerful, higher priced models including Buicks, Hudsons, and Chryslers. In 1969, Plymouth took first place in the police market, with Chrysler Corporation's 440 cu. in. V8s, Torqueflite transmissions, and torsion bar suspensions giving them a compelling advantage. Chrysler held their lead until the 1970s energy crisis drove buyers to smaller cars and Chrysler discontinued their rear-drive platform after the 1989 model year.
Non-Crown Victoria police vehicles may be bought to diversify a police department's fleet, so that less disruption occurs should a recall occur.
While some departments have adopted SUVs and front-wheel drive sedans (mainly the Chevrolet Impala), the rear-wheel-driveV8 configuration is favored for being consistent with pursuit driver training as well as for better reliability. Trials with front-wheel-drive vehicles like the Ford Taurus and Chevrolet Impala have shown problems with the cost of maintenance. In 1994, for example, a Ford spokeswoman noted that "It is certainly true that any front-wheel-drive car would be more expensive and difficult to maintain if you subjected it to the kind of hard use they get in police departments."General Motors and Chrysler provide other types (front-wheel drive, smaller engine) police vehicles as well, and a few jurisdictions (primarily in Canada) use these vehicles. The Chevrolet Tahoe PPV version along with the Ford [Explorer] Police Interceptor Utility are both pursuit-rated SUV's. Many jurisdictions use the Chevrolet Impala, which in its current configuration is a front-wheel-drive V6. The Dodge Charger R/T is the most likely challenger to the Crown Victoria as a RWD V8 patrol car, though the Washington State Patrol and the North Carolina Highway Patrol are using the vehicle initially as an unmarked patrol car. The Charger has shown great promise as a police car, being faster and more fuel efficient than the commonly used Ford Crown Victoria. Some complaints about the Charger though are its limited rear visibility and smaller trunk than the Crown Victoria. There were, in the 2005 and 2006 model years, significant problems with the braking systems, which has since been revised by Dodge. At the end of 2006, multiple Dodge Chargers have been put into the NYPD fleet for citywide testing. In the summer of 2006, the Georgia State Patrol announced that it would begin using the Charger R/T for high speed chases on Interstate highways due to its additional power and speed, and the Oklahoma Highway Patrol switched to the model early as well. As of 2007[update], the Alameda County (California) Sheriff's Office has plans as well to upgrade to the Charger. Many police agencies in the metropolitan Detroit area have also adopted a fleet that includes a number of the Dodge. Dodge only rates their 6-cylinder and Hemi-engined versions as "pursuit capable" (when ordered as a police package). The R/T version is not available in a police package. Other agencies, including the California Highway Patrol and Chicago Police Department, are replacing their older cruisers with the Ford Police Interceptor Utility [Explorer] variant due to its large cargo and equipment-carrying ability, as well as its optional AWD system. The standard Ford Taurus-based PI can also be equipped with AWD.
North American police cars were once noted for being painted black and white, with the car doors and roof painted white, while the trunk, hood, front fenders and rear quarter panels were painted black. The fleet vehicles that were used typically came painted in a single color, most commonly white or black, from the factory and were used as such. The contrasting black or white color was added to make the vehicle stand out from civilian vehicles. In 2007, the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) began converting its fleet back to a black-and-white scheme after decades of using other colours.
Beginning in the 1970s, police vehicle markings have become increasingly stylistic, with widespread use of computer-graphics and vinyl striping. While black and white designs are still in use in many jurisdictions, cars may range from being all white to completely black. Blues and greens of various hues are also frequently used. Brown, beiges and tans are favored by rural police and sheriff's offices.
Official markings also vary by jurisdiction. The side doors and sometimes the hood of a marked police car usually bear the agency's badge or the city seal, often in reflective finish. Markings such as emergency telephone numbers, generic anti-drug or anti-crime messages, or even website URLs are also common. Some agencies also have identification numbers printed on the roofs of patrol cars for tracking from aircraft, or to distinguish specialized units, such as K-9 units or supervisors.
Currently, in the United States, the paint scheme for each fleet is determined either by the individual agency or by uniform state legislation as in Minnesota. Usually, state laws exist that establish standards for police vehicle markings, and proscribe civilian vehicles from using certain markings or paint schemes as is the case in California.
Today, most fleet markings on patrol vehicles are created from reflective vinyl with an adhesive backing that is applied in a peel-and-stick manner. Colors chosen to represent the departments identity are typically chosen by the individual department, although, as noted above, some states have specific guidelines for color schemes and markings. Vinyl used to produce fleet markings comes in large rolls that are fed through a plotter (cutter) or large-format printer/cutter. The designs are created in specialized computer software and sent to the machines via cable link for production. Once the design is cut into the vinyl, the excess vinyl on the sheet is removed in a process called "weeding". Finally, a paper pre-mask is applied to the top of the vinyl design to allow easy application of multiple letters and shapes at one time.
Ford Taurus (frequently used by U.S. police forces in the 1990s didn't sell very well & the mid-sized Taurus was discontinued in 1995. Ford reintroduced it in 2012 as a successor to the Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor in 2013 based on the full-sized Taurus as the Police Interceptor Sedan.)
Police departments also use alternative police vehicles.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and several US police forces use unmarked/marked mini-vans and marked/unmarked Honda Civic sedans/coupes and other import vehicles like Honda, Toyota, etc., meant to be more anonymous than other kinds of unmarked vehicles.
Gilbert, Arizona has Tahoes and an unmarked Malibu
Arizona Highway Patrol has marked and unmarked Dodge and Ford pickups as well as marked police package Tahoes along with Crown Victorias and Impalas. At one time, Arizona had Police Package Mustangs and Volvo S90's and a Thunderbird Super Coupe as an experimental vehicle.
Maricopa County Sheriff has marked and unmarked Chargers, Crown Victorias, and Expeditions. There are also a handful of Explorers in the fleet.
Phoenix, Arizona utilizes Chevrolet Tahoes as primary patrol vehicles, with Ford Crown Victorias and Chevrolet Impalas being phased out since they are no longer produced. As of 3/2013, it appears they will continue to use Tahoes. Phoenix Detectives use Ford F150 and Chevy Silverados with flat fiberglass tonneau covers over the beds.
Beverly Hills has a Mercedes ML350 which is used by the School Resource Officers in their assignments at the Beverly Hills schools. It is the second Mercedes to have been loaned to the Department by Mercedes-Benz of Beverly Hills. They also have at least one undercover Chrysler 300.
The Colton and Chino Police Departments each had a Chevrolet Corvette in their fleets.
The resort towns of Vail and Aspen used Saab sedans and hatchbacks as their standard patrol car for over 25 years. Vail started replacing them with Ford Explorers in late 2003, and Aspen began replacing them in late 2005 with Volvo XC90s. In 2008, Aspen started to replace its fleet of Volvo XC90s with Toyota Highlander Hybrids. Vail has begun ramping up their fleet with the Volvo XC90.
The Daytona Beach Shores Public Safety Department uses only Ford Explorers as their primary pursuit/patrol vehicle.
The Gulf Breeze police department uses unmarked: 2011 Chevy Tahoe, 2009 Chevy Silverado and a green Jeep Cherokee for traffic. The department also uses Ford Crown Victorias, Ford 500, Ford Explorer Sport Trac, Chevy Camaro, Dodge Charger.
Florida Highway Patrol has used Mercury Marauders and Mustangs for Traffic Enforcement.
The Honolulu Police Department and the Hawai‘i County Police Department supplements its fleet of marked patrol cars by allowing the use of the personally owned vehicles of police officers which are partially subsidized by department funds. These include not only American cars but Japanese cars such as the Toyota 4Runner and Camry, Honda Pilot, Nissan Altima, XTerra and Murano. These cars are made distinguishable as on-duty police vehicles with the addition of a removable blue light bar.
The Idaho State Police uses only Dodge Chargers for its primary patrol vehicle. Dodge Magnums are being used for its crash reconstruction. Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors are used as secondary patrol vehicles.
The Glenview Police Department has at least two Honda Odyssey unmarked mini-vans driven by plain clothes officers.
The Cook County Sheriff Gang Task Force has a late-model black unmarked F-150 pickup
Illinois State Police has several unmarked vehicles ranging from Monte Carlos to Mustang GTs and Camaros to combat speeding and aggressive driving. There was also an unmarked Trans Am WS-6.
Winthrop Harbor had some unmarked Crown Victorias that were supercharged
Oak Lawn Police Department uses a Dare H2 Hummer for patrol
Elburn Police use 2 Ford Expeditions and 1 Ford F-150
Illinois Conservations Officers use mainly Ford, Dodge, and Chevy Pickups
Lakemoor Police Department has an unmarked Infiniti G35 Coupe
The Pontoon Beach Police Department (Madison County) has an assortment of vehicles consisting of Dodge Chargers, A Dodge Durango, Chevrolet Tahoe, and various unmarked vehicles following 2005 multi million dollar seizure of drug related money.
The Clarksville Police Department uses both marked and unmarked Ford Explorers and Ford Crown Victorias as well as a 1997 Dodge Ram for safety enforcement.
The Indiana State Police has unmarked Mustang GTs for speed enforcement. At one time, they had LS-1 powered Z28s for this purpose.
Michigan State Police Troopers use black Dodge Chargers fitted with chrome street rims along with a gunmetal Dodge Magnum (with police interceptor rims) for I-275 Highway Patrol. Both are completely unmarked.
Dearborn, the home of Ford Motor Company, employs several different Ford vehicles, including Ford Ranger pickups for parking enforcement, and a Ford Mustang for public relations visits to local schools. In the 1970s, Ford provided the Dearborn Police Department with a number of Lincoln Town Cars equipped with early airbag systems in order to accumulate engineering data in "real world" conditions.
The Hazel Park Police Department has a 2009 Jaguar XF (dark Jaguar blue), a 2008 Jaguar XF (silver) and a 2007 Jaguar XK Coupe (dark Jaguar blue). All were donated by Jaguar of Lakeside, Novi and Troy to commemorate fallen officers. The cars are fully marked and outfitted with police packages.
Southgate's Police Department fleet consists primarily of older to newer models of the Ford Crown Victoria, both marked and unmarked. Despite this fact, however, the SPD also uses a newer marked Ford Explorer (for traffic patrol and responding purposes) and an unmarked (all black) Dodge Charger. More recently, marked and unmarked versions of the sixth generation Ford Taurus have also made their way into the SPD's police interceptor lineup as well.
The Trenton Police Department has three Hemi Dodge Chargers (two all black, one black with white doors), one V6 Charger (all black), and two 2010 Chevy Tahoes (one black with white doors and another all black). Trenton receives vehicles to test because of manufacturing plants located in the city.
Michigan Conservation Officers use Chevy Silverado and Tahoes
The Mankato Department of Public Safety has a fleet of Ford F-150 pickup trucks, used primarily for traffic enforcement.
The Police Department in St. Louis Park uses an unmarked 2001+ GMC Yukon Denali, 20" Rims, blacked out, and tinted windows all around.
The Rochester Police Department has several Ford Escapes, as well as some Ford F-150 pickup trucks used by the "Community Service" patrol division. The city uses Jeep Wranglers for parking enforcement.
The Edison Township Police Department has a marked 1995 BMW M3 that was seized from a drug dealer. This vehicle is used for D.A.R.E and other awareness and education programs.
The Newark Police Department has a small fleet of Crown Victorias modified to look like a standard yellow city cab with rate stickers on doors and advertisement plaque on roof used for under-cover tasks; and "unmarked" everyday patrolling.
The Blanchard Police Department owns a Chrysler 300 that has many D.A.R.E stickers and other misc. emblems on it. Mostly known for the lambo doors and the 22" rims. On the back of the vehicle it reads "Donated by your local Drug Dealer".
In Regina, high school resource officers use either the Toyota Echo or its replacement, the Yaris, for transportation.
The South Carolina Highway Patrol used three BMW M5s during the early to mid-1990s. These cars were given to South Carolina after BMW chose the state to host their first assembly plant in the U.S.
Many sheriff's offices and police departments in West Texas utilize 4x4 pickups; Armstrong County 3 Ford F-150 Ext Cabs, Wheeler County 3 4-door and 5 Ext Cab Chevy Silverado's. Shamrock PD has 2 Avalanches and 1 4-door Silverado.
The Houston Police Department used pickup trucks like the Chevrolet Silverado, Ford F150, and Dodge Ram for their "Truck Enforcement" division, which is a unit to investigate commercial truck drivers for suspicion. Former Houston Texans player Mario Williams has donated 5 white with white ghost print Chevrolet Camaro SS units and 5 black on black ghost print Hemi Dodge Chargers for the traffic enforcement duty. New Chevrolet Caprice, Tahoe, and Ford Police Interceptors (Taurus and Explorer) have joined the city fleet. The entire police fleet is undergoing a change in color from the blue and whites to black and white units. HPD has 100 squads (some of them are 2011 Crown Vics pre-ordered prior to the end of production) painted in a black and white livery although a Chevrolet Tahoe 9C1 was painted in this livery as of late 2011.
The Columbia County Sheriff's office utilizes the four-wheel-drive Jeep Liberty as the patrol vehicle of choice. This six-cylinder vehicle provides the right balance of fuel economy and performance necessary to effectively patrol the 872 miles of roadways within the county.
A number of Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) programs in local police departments have some notable vehicles marked as police cars to promote the program. The DARE cars appear at schools and in parades. Typically these cars are high-end or performance cars that have been seized in a drug raid. They are used to send the message that drug dealers forfeit all their glamorous trappings when they get caught. Cars include the Chevrolet Corvette, Ford Mustang, and Humvee.
The Golden, Colorado Police Department has an old GTO that they use as their DARE car. It is often seen at Bandimere Speedway.
The Camden County Sheriff's Office, Georgia has a Dodge Viper that it uses for DARE. The car is also part of a tenured program known as Project R.O.A.D. Runner (Reach Out Against Drugs) created by the department before DARE was created. The car talks and educates kids about the dangers of drugs, very similar to the famous Knight Rider car, KITT.
Missoula County Transit (Missoula, Montana) had an Orion II transit bus on its active fleet, painted all in black with DARE logos on the hood and sides. It was used in support of the Missoula Police and Sheriff's Departments until its retirement a few years ago.
The Westfield, New Jersey Police Department uses a seized Chevy Tahoe with scissor doors and 24-inch chrome wheels for D.A.R.E.
Ford ceased production of the ubiquitous Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor in 2011, it was replaced by both the Ford Police Interceptor Sedan & Ford Police Interceptor Utility. On March 12, 2010, a prototype Ford Police Interceptor Sedan based on the sixth generation Taurus's platform was demonstrated at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway and Ford assured law enforcement agencies that it would be in production when the last Crown Victorias are built in September 2011. The car was also displayed to fleet managers from Canada and the United States at the National Association of Fleet Administrators (NAFA) exposition in Detroit in April. Months after the Sedan was unveiled a prototype Ford Police Interceptor Utility based on the fifth generation Ford Explorer was unveiled at Ford's Chicago plant in front of its work force by then VP of U.S. Marketing, Sales and Service Ken Czubay. The production of the Police Interceptor Sedan began in 2012 as a 2013 model along with the Utility counterpart while in 2013 Ford also announced a Special Service Sedan based on the sixth generation Taurus.
Another viable contender, based on the Holden Caprice and badged as a Chevrolet Caprice, was displayed in October 2009 to North American law enforcement agencies, who have been advised that orders will be taken in 2010 for delivery in 2011.