Speeders beware this trick…
If you live in or are planning to travel around Florida anytime soon, you need to watch your speed and other driving habits. A new report out of the Sunshine State details how more law enforcement agencies there are using unmarked Mustangs, Corvettes, and other performance cars as a way to catch speeders and reckless drivers. While that might sound great for anyone who’s sick of dealing with scofflaws on the highway, there are some concerns for unintended consequences.
Check out the Motorious Podcast here.
The idea of using an unmarked police car to catch dangerous drivers certainly isn’t a new one. While slick top cruisers back in the day were still fairly easy to spot because they featured big light bars inside the windshield, modern technology allows emergency lights to be embedded into the factory exterior lights. That means until the officer turns them on, you can’t tell it has strobing red and blue lights.
Police and sheriff departments are getting smart. Instead of just buying black, white, or silver cars they’re getting unmarked vehicles in a variety of paint hues like red, yellow, and green. This means hawkeyed aggressive drivers might not even suspect they’re cutting across multiple lanes of traffic, tailgating other vehicles, and in general being reckless right in front of a cop.
Because they look just like civilian vehicles, some believe these unmarked police cars can easily be mimicked by police impersonators. Florida has few restrictions on when and where unmarked police vehicles can be used to enforce traffic laws, unlike other states such as California.
What’s more, news station WTSP spoke with a Florida State University professor who studies police-community relations. That professor, James Wright II, claims using unmarked police cars to catch aggressive drivers erodes the public image of law enforcement.
“It gives the perception that the community is doing something that is not lawful,” Wright said. “Then it's telling the police officers that they need to be hyper-vigilant when they're in these unmarked cars as well, so I think on both ends it can be scary.”
We happen to know many police are skeptical of what academics who have no real-world policing experience say on these types of matters. What’s more, Florida is hardly the only state where law enforcement uses unmarked performance vehicles to catch people behaving poorly on highways and other roads.
A lot of times when drivers see someone weaving through traffic, tailgating, and in general acting like a jerk they wonder where a cop is when they’re truly needed. Unfortunately, having a black and white marked car with roof lights sends a signal to these aggressive drivers to behave momentarily. Once there are no cops visible they go right back to the same behavior. Unmarked cars check that tendency.
As far as police impersonators, we’ve seen some who mock their vehicles up to look like a marked cop car. Some add push bars, light bars, even door decals. They’ll wear something looking like a uniform and carry a radio, too. So the argument that these unmarked vehicles will fuel police impersonators seems tenuous.
That WTSP report does point out that unmarked vehicles don’t normally cost law enforcement agencies more than a marked car. We believe these more clandestine police vehicles keep everyone more honest since you never know when a cop might be observing how you’re driving and that’s’ a good thing.
Images via Facebook