Why aren't retired cop cars more "decommissioned"?

Preface: I understand that the following probably doesn’t hold for all cities/states, I’ve seen these cars in the three states I’ve lived in – particularly NJ.

Why aren’t police patrol cars stripped more of their “copness” prior to sale to private citizens? (I assume the cars are mainly sold through auction?). I often see retired cars that are still outfitted with push bumpers, spotlights, pursuit tires, and even lettering that’s poorly concealed by just rollered/spray paint. Someone could, of course, buy their own Crown Vic-ish car and outfit it out, but that doesn’t seem highly likely. The car I was behind today even had the usual cop car bumperstickers left on (“Cop Shot Call 911,” DARE, etc).

These cars still read “cop!” and I’ve seen fellow motorists (and me) hit the brakes/slow waaay down/not pass the ersatz cop car and clog up traffic. With the addition of a vaguely cop-like roof light, I’m sure the (non) cop could easily pull over drivers, especially in the semi-dark.

Isn’t it a liability to sell cars that are easily mistaken for law enforcement vehicles to private citizens? If a buyer were so inclined, he or she could engage in some . . . interesting activity.

Or is it an eviiiil plot to give the illusion that the police are everywhere? 8 ) BTW: I know a lot of departments have moved on from the Crown Vic, but this is the quintessential patrol car.



Why spend extra effort and lower the resale value of the car by removing things that are legal to have on civilian car anyway?

Yet it’s illegal to impersonate a LEO and leaving some of these components on the cars could enable impersonation. Sure, I could throw the same stuff on my BMW sedan, but I doubt it would cause motorists to hit the brakes or be convincing enough that I could pull someone over.

And these cars have been used for badness, ex: https://www.channel3000.com/news/crime/pd-cop-impersonator-spotted-in-police-style-uniform-driving-ford-crown-vic/616806611

Possibly a lot of them are sold to other law-enforcement types; private security agencies, mall cops, smaller municipalities, etc. And of course to musicians putting the band back together. :cool:

But be aware, the cigarette lighter may not work

Better story, details there was exterior accoutrement:

Some of the items might have come from the factory–I know that GM sold some models of its cars with a readymade cop car set of options like better suspension, sometimes a heftier engine and available bumper mods. The rest you probably can’t use on a new car anyway, so why spend the time and effort to take the stuff off, especially if you might have to find stock parts to replace them, like push bumpers and spotlights. Easier just to sell as is and there’s no end of people willing to pick them up at auction. Heck, my mom’s company bought a decommissioned fire truck and the only items removed were the blue lights–they were allowed to keep the red/white flashers and the siren because they were first responders to the buildings where they installed the sprinkler systems.

The real question is why anyone would want a Crown Vic 8 * ) I actually do know why it is appealing to some folks, including my grandparents, who bought a new one every two years, 1992 - deaths, .ca. 2012. They did the same with whatever Ford was the Vic’s land yacht ancestor (Marquis ?)

The drawbridge jump test is required before I buy one,

But yeah, essentially it would be too much of an expense to remove things like the push bumper and the spotlight because you’d then have to do bodywork to keep the vehicle fit for inspection. Same for the tires/wheels, they are already there and already used anyway (BTW, four blackwall tires on plain coverless steel wheels was forever the mark of a government car, not just police cruisers, but now it just means you don’t want to pay for alloys) and even more so for the paint job: they feel that cosmetics should be the buyer’s problem. I suppose in more recent vehicles the effect this has may have changed with the lower number of traditional “black & whites”.

The Ford Crown Vic/Mercury Grand Marquis nameplates started life as variants of a prior generation of full-size Ford LTD/Mercury Marquis. Then at some point in the 1980s Ford realigned nameplates across platforms and briefly moved the base LTD/Marquis nameplate from the Land Yatch category to what was then considered mid-size before phasing them out, and kept Crown Vic/Grand Marquis for the barges.

I think it was probably LTDs they were fans of before the Vics (you inspired me to browse some pics). The land yachts were my grandparents’ only real indulgence and were well deserved after a lifetime of grueling labor. Man, those cars defied the concept of stiff suspension!

Depends on where you live, Jen:


Body on frame, RWD, awesome car for a road trip. Lacking a lot of modern technology, and perceived as “not cool,” but for sheer comfort, I always loved getting them as rentals.

I’ve got a Taurus now. Just a standard SHO. I must look like LEO, because people tend to get out my way more quickly than when I drive other cars.

I have often wondered the same thing as Jennshark, I have frequently seen decommissioned police cars with the police lettering poorly removed so that you can still clearly see the outline of the words, as well as the vehicles still having the bumpers and spotlights. It just seems like it could be a problem. I’ve similarly wondered this about school buses still painted yellow with just the school or district name blocked out and to a lesser degree ambulances that seem to sometimes be purchased by electricians and plumbers. It just seems like it’s going to cause problems at some point.

I did see one police car that had the lettering peeled off, but still had the outline of the word police that you could clearly see… but it was still being used by one of the police departments detectives, I guess they were just trying to make it a little less obvious. It was a pretty backwoods town.

I owned two of them. In my 20s. I loved those things.

I wanted a big, American car with a big V8 engine. I couldn’t afford a new car, and used Crown Vics with about 50,000 miles sold for right around $10,000. They weren’t used police cars, they were both previously owned by elderly people (surprise!) and were very well taken care of. They were really nice cars, and rode like a La-Z-Boy on wheels. I drove the shit out of those things. Everyone on the road behaved around me, and cops tended to ignore me, even when I was driving obnoxiously in front of them. If it were still possible to find a decent one (it’s really not), and if gasoline prices weren’t so high (admittedly terrible fuel efficiency, like around 15 mpg average, if that), I’d have bought another one.

How often does a city specifically choose to sell a surplus police car to an individual citizen? I’d think that a lot of the time, they just send it to an auction and let it go to whoever wins, which might be a person but might be an institutional buyer that is in the market for an actual police car.

That said, my city did once accidentally sell a police car with the lights and siren included, and the markings intact, when it intended to remove those things.

About ten years ago, I used to see an obviously ex-police car around downtown Portland… with the anarchy symbol painted on its doors.

Anybody pulling over for a Crown Vic these days, just doesn’t know cars. The most common patrol cars these days are Dodge Chargers and Ford Interceptors.

My 330 is also a bit squishy and the seatbelts are wonky as well, it’s not a car I’d want to patrol in for eight hours (but it is quick and maneuverable – good for chasing bad guys, just nowhere to put 'em). It seems a roomier 5 or 7-series would be a better choice. I’ve also seen my X3 pop up as a patrol car in some UK/Euro cop shows; roomy, but not a good pursuit car IMHO.

Our local dept have replaced a lot of their sedans with SUVs – Ford Explorers, I think. Not long ago a cop in hot pursuit turned his over and took out a cemetery fence and some gravestones; I can see the clear advantages of height and weight a SUV gives, but there’s the turnover issue. Our campus security also has SUVs, an officer was fired last year for doing doughnuts in a parking lot late at night and rolling a brand new one.

NJ State Police are also driving SUVs and a flavor of Chevy(?) sedans.

For middle-aged me it’s an automatic reflex – Crown Vics were the choice of cops for 20+ years. I’m conditioned.