How grody do the back of cop cars get?

Cops often arrest people in varying states of personal hygene, shirtless, and sometimes bloody. I kind of wonder how gross the back of the cruiser gets- do they have replacible liners? Do they clean it every time someone is in the back?

My neighbor is a county sheriff, and he’s always cleaning his car - they have random inspections. The upholstery in the back is vinyl and very easy to clean. For good reason - he’s told me about having drunks vomit back there, people bleed back there, etc. I would bet you could hose the back out - the front has all the electronics.


If we get bodily fluids in the car it is taken out of service and cleaned by someone else. That was not the case when I first came on but changed due to concerns about blood borne pathogens.

Also, the back seat is normally made to flip up easily, which makes it super easy to clean under. Cops generally inspect that area before their shift and check again after each arrest to see if the arrestee tried to hide any contraband by stuffing it under the cushion.

I saw an article on how they were custom designing cars for police, instead of buying commercial models and modifying them. One of the points was a one-piece back seat, I think it was separated from the front, and easy to clean. Another point was seat belts that retracted to the middle and buckled at the door.

Here is an article that describes (and illustrates) what you’re talking about. Scroll down to the third photo.

One particularly memorable Cops episode had the officer and assists chasing an alleged child molester. The suspect was on foot, and ran through a brushy area. When the officers finally surrounded him and he knew he wasn’t getting away, he shat himself.

They led him to a nearby business where they literally hosed him off before putting him in the back of the car. But I’m SURE that car was out of service as soon as he was transported to the holding facility!

I got to ride in the back seat of a Richmond PD patrol car (I helped chase down a mugger and the victim and I got a ride to where he was being held so that we could positively identify him). The backseat was one of the hard plastic seats mentioned upthread. Uncomfortable as hell but I assume much easier to clean with a hose and some pinesol…

I’m guessing they’re cleaner than the average back seat of a cab…


I haven’t heard the term in about 30 years (the last time I was a single digit age), but I do remember this: the only answer to a question of “how grody…?” in reference to anything is “to the max”.

This, in my experience.

I’ve been in a Chicago police SUV where the front seat area looked absolutely disgusting. Empty cups and fast food wrappers, cigarette ash and butts everywhere, random piles of papers… yeesh. I asked them if they ever cleaned their car. They did not appreciate suggestions from the peanut gallery very much.

I’ve seen some like that (pictures only, not first hand :wink: ). Not only are they easy to clean, but since they’re one piece, there’s no where to stuff contraband that might still be in your pocket. Also, IIRC, some models have big divots so the person’s arms can be cuffed behind them and they can still sit somewhat comfortably.

ETA, I guess it’s not so much a divot as a bump to lift your back up off your arms.

Following a minor accident in bad weather, I was asked by the police to get in their vehicle. The back seat had been replaced with a board. They explained that it was otherwise impossible to clean up the gross stuff and eliminate the smell.

Anecdote: a relative asked my husband if our toddler had fun playing in his patrol car. His immediate reply was “No. There’s too much in the front that could get her in trouble, and I wouldn’t let her get in the back seat.” Followed by a shudder. And yes, he cleans and inspects the back any time he transports anyone.

For the record, his car always looks messy as hell, no matter how often it’s cleaned. The front seat contains him, a laptop, radio, a gear bag for all the extras, plus his daily bag and a cooler. More than half of the back seat is given over to the kennel. The trunk contains everything from a rifle and ammunition to first aid gear to a toolbox and tow straps, not to mention cleaning supplies. It would be freaking awesome if the county had the money to put their K9 units into SUVs instead of Crown Vics!

Some of our cars have the molded plastic one piece seat in the back. Some have the vinyl seats. Depends on the model year.

Not to extend the highjack, but… In my experience, both cabs and police cars have been upstanding models of sanitary cleanliness. I’ve never seen filth of any kind in the back seats of either.

My friend, the ex-cabbie, said that he had had to clean up all sorts of disgusting filth, but his point was that he did clean it up, so you’d never know it had been there at all.

(Another friend worked in an X-Rated bookstore, the kind with coin-operated x-rated movie booths. And, yeah, he had to clean up spilled semen. Has that ever been on the tv show “Dirty Jobs?”)