Stealth police cars in New York City?

Is there a program of stealth police cars in New York City? When I was there a month ago, I saw what appeared to be a standard Yellow Cab flick on hidden red and blue police lights (in the windshield) and sound a police siren. It then went racing up the street. I also saw a gray Suburban pull the same trick. Do they camouflage police cars to do stealth police work? I kind of wish they had them here, if only to to keep down on the flagrant stop sign runners and wannabee teenage drag strip racers.

There are unmarked cars, used by plainclothes detectives. I’ve never seen a police car disguised as a taxi, though it would make sense, since both fleets use the same types of vehicles. (Lots of Crown Vics and suchlike.)

Lots of places have unmarked police cars. They are useful for doing surveillance and other activities where the police don’t want to be as obvious as a marked car makes them. A police car disguised as a taxi would seem to be the perfect vehicle for discreet surveillance in NYC.

Unmarked vehicles are usually not used for traffic enforcement, and it is illegal to use them for such in some areas. This is mainly for safety reasons–it makes is easier for a driver to avoid someone posing as a police officer trying to stop them if only marked cars with uniformed officers are used for traffic stops.

These are called undercover or unmarked cars. Unmarked cars are more typically of the same kind within the fleet of the agency, i.e. Crown Victorias painted in a single dark color, but clearly having emergency lighting visible from the outside (on the dash, under the sunvisors etc). Undercover cars, you’re not supposed to know they are undercover unless you are inside with a cop.

In NYC, it’s anyone’s bet whether that cabbie was really law enforcement or not. NYC seems to have a large number of “whackers,” or posers pretending to be law enforcement by installing lightbars, sirens, PAs, badging and radios in their vehicles.

Speaking from personal experience, law enforcement has all kinds of undercover vehicles. I have seen LEOs use the whole range, from Mercedes Benz SUVs (think federal alphabet soup agencies) all the way to Ford Taurus stationwagons (think local sheriff’s department).

Having done the buildouts of some of the undercover cars, you really would not know they are police, the radios are all completely hidden, no emergency lighting, and so forth. License plates that you would not know were registered to a police agency unless you actually ran them, and saw the DMV record return address information belonging to the agency.

Yeah, I know about unmarked police cars. They are usually Crown Vics or whatever without the cop hardware and just have normal pain jobs. I was under the impression that they use them to catch speeders on the highway, but I could be mistaken. I guess it makes sense to not use them because of difficulties with people impersonating cops and pulling over unsuspecting victims. I was just surprised to see a yellow cab turn into a cop car. Perhaps they are only used for special operations.

I think that’s mostly the LAPD.

I’ve seen what you’re talking about – a NYPD car that to all outward appearences looks like a taxi. I know it was real (and not a “whacker”) because I saw one once involved in a kerfuffle that attracted a lot of other marked cars and uniformed officers (I stopped to gawk from a few blocks away). East side, midtown, marked cars with lights and sirens going screech to a stop, cops jump out, run into a building, another marked car comes up, cops jump out and run into the building, another marked car, same thing, a taxi pulls up (I remember thinking “WTF?? A taxi??”), two guys jump out, run into the building, another marked car, etc. etc. etc.

I’ve seen a Police Van disquised as a Lawn Service Van–badly.

The lawn service was named:

lawn service.

I’ve seen the van twice - once with a guy with a weedwacker clearing the median on a boulevard and once pulling someone over on the highway with the hidden red and blue strobes running.

I know a Harris County (Houston, TX) Sherriff whose undercover work car was a pickup - a purple pickup.

If you’re driving across Indiana on the interstates watch out for unmarked Mustang GTs. The ISP has a fleet of them for traffic enforcement. I’ve seen them with For Sale signs taped in the windows.

Yep, the NYPD has cop cars disguised as taxicabs. Iv’e seen one pulling someone over on the Belt Parkway.
You can tell the difference between a real cab and a cop cab by looking at the plates. Regular NYC cabs have “taxi” plates. The cop cabs have “T&LC” plates. Of course if you’re close enough to read the plates it’s probably too late :slight_smile:

I was standing in line in the Alphabet City portion of Manhattan (East of 1st Avenue between 14th and Houston). It’s not one of the more gentrified areas. I was waiting in line to listen to the Moth at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. The stories were to be about crime.

While waiting in line, a beat up blue panel van pulled up to the apartment building across the street. Two men came out, and in a few minutes they came out with another man in tow and in handcuffs. They put the one in handcuffs in the back of the van and drove off.

I can’t say they were police, and if this happened in Chelsea, I would assume three men with one in handcuffs and a panel van might be up to something else. But, my assumption is that the two people in the van were policemen and the van was an undercover police van.

Hopefully this will work, but this is a chevy malibu thats actually a police car.

Stealth police car


Youtube has a bunch of videos of NYPD’s disguised taxicabs.

I remember years ago getting pulled over on the New York Thruway for speeding and the cop car was an unmarked supped up mustang. And a few years back we had a marked camero here on The Toronto Police Service patrolling the highway in the city, I’m sure the guys fought over driving that one.
But just a few weeks ago the OPP (Ontario Provincial Police) announced they have new marked cruisers (look at the top of the cruiser) that have license plate readers on top of the car so it instantly reads plates while the car drives up/down the highway. Pretty neat, but I sure am not going to speed anymore or steal cars. It has plate readers on the front and back. So that brings up another point, is it okay for cops to be reading their computer screens while they are driving?
They just brought in the new “No cell phones while driving” which I agree with and has been way late in coming. But it’s still ok if you have hands free. But you can eat a sandwich or Mcflurry while driving? I don’t get it, too many distractions while driving in this city.

Yeah, that’s the one.

They also generally have both a driver and a front seat passenger (both are officers, of course), and nobody in the back seat. Dead giveaway. Regular NYC taxis don’t operate like that.

True dat.

You’ll probably find that the cruisers are manned by two constables, one will operate the vehicle and the other will probably be reviewing the camera footage, depending on how they use it.


True. Ohio law explicitly prohibits officers from using unmarked vehicles for traffic enforcement, and bars the trial testimony of officers who do. And in at least one case, a court found that a minimally-marked police car would not put the average motorist on legally sufficient notice that it was a legitimate stop: