For the past 20 years, the Menlo Park, CA and Ripon, CA Police Departments have co-hosted one of the nation’s largest emergency vehicle shows
. The annual show includes displays of in-service and vintage police, fire and EMS vehicles from all over the country.
The show was conceived in 1990, when I attended a police memorabilia show held at the California Highway Patrol Academy in Sacramento. Although the memorabilia show was good, I thought it would be great if there were police cars on display as well. The organizers of the memorabilia show were of great assistance – Officer Joe Schlechter of the California Highway Patrol, Mike Lynch of the California State Park Police, and the late Douglas T. Messer, who worked for the California Department of Fish and Game. The first police vehicle show was held in conjunction with the police memorabilia show in 1991 at the CHP Academy. About 20 vehicles were on display.
The event is still held in conjunction with the Northern California Law Enforcement Collector’s Show, however, about 15 years ago the show location moved from the CHP Academy to the city of Ripon. The show is currently sponsored by the Menlo Park Police Foundation, the Menlo Park and Ripon Police Officers Associations, along with many other individuals who promote the event. All of the proceeds of the event are donated to the Menlo Park Police Cadet Unit, the Ripon Volunteers in Police, the California Highway Patrol Museum, and Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.).
Currently the show is open to any current or vintage vehicle consisting of police, fire, volunteer, military, tow truck, security, ambulances, daily drivers (ex-police vehicles) and professional vehicles. One of the most popular vehicle classes at our event is the restored police car. First, these vehicles are divided by vehicle years and whether or not they were an actual police vehicle, or a “clone.” A clone police vehicle is a non-police package vehicle that is restored to resemble a police package vehicle. The vehicle class that includes the cloned police cars is the Novelty class, which also includes T.V. and movie type police vehicles.
We award first, second, and third place plaques in each of our vehicle classes. The restored class includes awards for 1900-1974 vehicle years and then again for 1975-1996. The novelty class grouping is slightly different, and runs from 1900-1964, and 1965-1996. For our 2010 show, we had 121 vehicles on display and gave awards to 49 different emergency vehicles in various classes.
The Best of Show award went to a 2007 GMC SWAT response truck, entered by the Citrus Heights, CA Police Department. The first place award in the Restored police vehicle class (1900-1974) went to a 1969 Dodge Polara, which was an original California Highway Patrol car. The first place award in Restored police vehicle class (1975-1996) went to a 1996 Chevrolet Caprice, which was also an original California Highway Patrol car.
The first place award in our Best Restored Special Service Pursuit Package (non agency owned police package Mustangs and Camaros) went to a 2002 Chevrolet Camaro, representing the Florida Highway Patrol. The first place award in the Best Public Relations, Volunteer class went to a 1946 Ford Prisoner Transport vehicle, owned by the Stockton, CA Police Department. In the Best Police Motorcycle class, first place went to a 1962 Harley-Davidson, owned since new by the Watsonville, CA Police Department and brought to the show by Chief Manny Solano.
In addition to a static display, the day includes a “lights and siren” cruise through the city of Ripon, and an extensive police memorabilia show – buy, sell, swap. Please join us for our 21st Annual Show on October 1st. Bring an in-service or vintage police vehicle, stop by to see one of the largest displays of these cars or shop for police memorabilia. Darryl Lindsay is the Emergency Vehicle Show Coordinator and a communications officer with the Menlo Park, Calif. PD. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.