For years, the unmarked police car has helped law enforcement agencies around the world capture speeding drivers, pounce on unsuspecting criminals and provide covert investigative opportunities.
Powered by a large, powerful engine capable of high-speed pursist, the traditional unmarked cop car is giving way to a new breed of covert law-enforcement vehicles: unmarked hybrids and high gas-milage cars.
According to WPTV, law enforcement officials in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, will soon be trading in traditional police rides for something a little more unconventional.
Through a new contract with Government Fleet Services, the police forces of Fort Lauderdale will be trading in 247 of its old unmarked vehicles for a variety of cars, including hybrids like the 2012 Toyota Prius, and green cars like the Hyundai Elantra.
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“I anticipate the fleet to look like a Walmart parking lot,” Fort Lauderdale Police Capt. Eric Brogna said. “There’s going to be everything you could possibly imagine there -- save your high-end luxury cars.”
By introducing unexpected variety into its fleet, the force hopes it will be able to shake the age-old image of undercover cops in cars that are obviously police-issue.
“You’re not going to surprise anybody when you pull up in a [Chevrolet] Malibu,” said Katrina Powell, president of Government Fleet Services. “But if it’s a bright red hybrid, you’re not expecting pretty blue lights to go on and someone to step out with a shiny badge.”
The $6.1 million contract will source its cars from auctions rather than traditional fleet purchase agreements.
In this way, it will ensure the Fort Lauderdale police force keeps an eclectic fleet of unmarked police cars that aren’t easily spotted.
In the past, hybrid and plug-in hybrid cars have been used by police forces for non-urgent duties, such as parking enforcement, but this is the first time we’ve heard of green cars being used as undercover vehicles.
For now, the range of greener cars are unlikely to be used as pursuit cars by highway patrol officers. But they will provide covert transport for undercover detectives and provide a way for non pursuit drivers to keep a low profile.
Of course, there’s also one more benefit: by going with smaller-engined, greener cars with higher gas mileage, Fort Lauderdale Police Department can look forward to smaller gas bills.