Stealth and police cars : LUSENET : SF Times Op-Ed : One Thread


Stealth and police cars? I don't get it. I was told by a police officer that the reason for police cars becoming more and more stealthy is because ( to catch the criminal in the act ) now this does puzzle me, should the question be, who wants to un-knowingly become a volunteer victim? Lets say you are about to be a un-knowing volunteer victim, maybe someone is about to club you in the head, or shoot you, maybe mug you, or do some property damage, maybe a break-in, some type of criminal act on you, or your family.

Now for the stealth cop car to catch this crime in the act, doesn't someone have to be a un-knowing volunteer victim so this can happen? My self, I sure don't want to be a un-knowing volunteer victim, I would like to see the name POLICE in huge florescent letters, that I can see a mile away, and also the criminal could see this sign a mile away also, that would detour the criminal maybe what he/she is about to do, that would make me the un-knowing volunteer victim, because if the criminal does not see the name POLICE in florescent huge letters, you may, or chances are you will become the un-knowing volunteer victim that the stealth car has been waiting for.

Which brings me to another point. Even the State Police cars are becoming more and more stealth looking, much harder to see. When I go on vacation and traveling the highways I usually think of the worst so I am prepared if something does happen, like needing to get help fast, maybe a heart-attack victim in my car, or someone got hurt real bad in my car, and I need a hospital NOW. But most chances are, I'll miss all the hospital signs and need help finding the nearest hospital. If I don't see the hospital signs, I'll be looking for the HUGE florescent STATE POLICE sign on there cars, and now being in stealth, I'll probably miss them and drive right by, putting my passengers life on the line. Now it is all to easy for someone to say, you should not panic, I guess if it were a everyday occurrence, I would not panic, but chances are, I don't have a emergency everyday that I would be calm and not panic.

Besides, now this stealth cars, isn't that what UN=MARKED police cars are for, and under-cover cops!

Sandusky, Oh 44870

-- Peter Pullano (, February 01, 2002


While I can understand your concern for the increasing amount of stealth police cars on the road, I believe you are misinformed and have the wrong impression as to their purpose. This post is my attempt to explain the reason for having these stealth cars and the benefit they serve to the public.

The purpose for stealth police cars and unmarked cars are so that police officers can catch criminal behavior in progress, as you said. Stealth cars are most often used when enforcing traffic laws, so that bad drivers do not realize there is a police car around them. Because many people drive better than normal when they see a marked police unit, this allows the police to catch the truly bad drivers that would otherwise not demonstrate this behavior in their presence. These cars still stop vehicles for minor traffic violations, and also respond to normal calls for service (CFS).

In addressing your concern for being an "unknowing volunteer victim," it is my experience that criminals are wary of ANY vehicles when committing a crime, and therefore will not usually commit crimes if there is a chance they will be caught in the act by either a police officer or any other citizen who may be a witness. If they do commit a criminal act in public, then they will most often continue the act even if a fully marked police vehicle is approaching, as they are not concerned with being apprehended. Most common among these "public" crimes are spontaneous criminal behavior, such as fights. Furthermore, when police officers are called to certain crimes, such as a breaking and entering in progress, the officers do not respond with lights and sirens as many people think, but usually "go dark" by turning off all their lights in an attempt to sneak up on the criminal and not spook them. This serves multiple purposes. For one, it increases the likelihood that they will catch the criminal in the act, and it also reduces the chance that the criminal will react violently to the incoming police presence, such as by taking a hostage or shooting an innocent person.

It is important to realize that simply because there are more stealth cars on the road (otherwise called "slick-tops" because of their lack of emergency lights on the top of the roof), there are still many fully-marked police vehicles on every shift. Additionally, most stealth vehicles still have markings on their side identifying them as police. Sometimes these decals are reflective, increasing the stealth. Hopefully this clears up some of the issues noted in your post.

-- Nick Szopko (, January 16, 2005.

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