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2009 Police Vehicle Design Contest, Part 1

Today’s law enforcement officers face many different threats and risks whether on patrol or responding to emergency situations. It is imperative that police vehicles be instantly recognizable as emergency vehicles for the safety of both the officers and the citizens they protect. First and foremost, a police vehicle’s design should be about safety and identification. Agencies designs have also begun incorporating state, county and regional symbols, mission statements and mottos to represent the communities they serve.

Color schemes, as well as makes and models of police vehicles are changing to reflect the future of law enforcement. The traditional black-and-white color scheme is being replaced with solid, bolder, brighter colors. Also, the Dodge Charger is becoming the vehicle of choice for many departments across the country.

This year’s contest was judged by four law enforcement professionals who are in various public safety positions. Michael Harn is a deputy with the Ogle County Sheriff in Oregon, IL. Stephen Carroll is the chief of police in Brownsburg, IN. James Poling is a sergeant with the City of Crown Point, IN Police. Paul Madigan is the chief of police in Palos Hills, IL.

The 2009 contest was judged based on the integrity of the designs submitted, as well as how each design met the criteria as outlined in the contest guidelines. The response to this year’s competition was impressive with more than 300 entries, which made the judging difficult, especially in the popular Municipal 10 to 50 Officers category. LAW and ORDER would like to thank all the departments that submitted entries for the 2009 contest.

The 2009 vehicle design judges focused on the safety of the officer driving and the ability to identify the automobile as a law enforcement vehicle. The overall appearance of the vehicle was, of course, factored into the results.

The judges looked for departmental symbols, names in easy-to-read lettering, a badge, shield or community seal, emergency phone numbers and Web sites. For visibility, the judges looked for reflective tape and decals. The traditional two-tone paint scheme is still used effectively today, but many agencies are changing to solid cars with contrasting colors in their striping or lettering.


The judges were concerned about the photo quality of some entries, specifically on the fact that a lot of the photos were backlit and/or were taken by trees, which inhibited from showing off the design of the vehicles.


Dallas Police Department
Dallas, NC

In 2006 Chief Gary Buckner wanted to change the design on the cars and include the new badge. The car color was changed to silver with black and gold graphics, the original Dallas High School colors. Reflective material is used on all sides of the car for nighttime visibility. The most eye-catching feature is the prominent display of the department badge on both sides of the car. The design takes the historic charm of the town and blends it with the future vision, creating a modern and up-to-date police vehicle.

Judge’s Comments

This is a great color scheme. The silver-and-gold color combination is very unique and not often seen on a police vehicle. They did a wonderful job on the seal design, and the stripes flow well to the back. It’s easily identified as POLICE by the bold lettering. This is one good-looking police car!

Municipal Over 50 Officers, East

NFTA Police Department
Buffalo, NY

The Niagara Frontier Transit Authority Police agreed that an old-fashioned two-toned black-and-white police vehicle was professional and prestigious, but wanted to avoid making the design too conventional. A deep navy blue was chosen to replace the original black design and depict the color of the Niagara River within the region. The silver markings are 3M reflective from VSP Graphics. The NFTA Police chose this particular design because it represents the department’s past, present and future.

Judge’s Comments

This vehicle is different; a nice design the way it comes off the back fender. We like the blue color. The graphics here also look good on the Ford Crown Victoria.

Municipal Over 50 Officers, West

The Colony Police Department
The Colony, TX

The design was chosen to add better and larger reflective areas to the vehicle than the previous design offered, especially from behind. The colors and the “Texas” with the star and blue backing on the lower rocker panel is the same as on the city flag. It incorporates design elements unique to the city flag as well as an imprinted copy of the police department shoulder patch.

Judge’s Comments

The bottom stripe is sharp, and the reflective areas are illuminating at night. We also like the incorporation of the state emblem.

Municipal 10–50 Officers, East

East Hempfield Township Police Department
Landisville, PA

The Landisville, PA Police changed from the Ford CVPI to the Dodge Charger and wanted a new look. The colors on the car are also used in a new patch design, which is displayed on the front fender. The new design uses reflective vinyl as an outline around the word “POLICE” as well as the thin red line on the side. On the back, the chevrons attract attention and help with safety on traffic stops or accident scenes. The patch design on the side incorporates an outline of the township and features a few landmarks of the area.

Judge’s Comments

We like the graphics on the trunk and the 3D effect with “POLICE” on the side. It looks like an emblem, not just a decal. This car was also considered to be most effective from the rear.

Municipal 10–50 Officers, West

Keene Police Department
Keene, TX

The Keene, TX Police recently purchased new Dodge Chargers, a switch from the Crown Victorias. They went with the black-and-white paint scheme, largely in part so there would be no doubt it was a police car. They incorporated the color, lettering and patch from the old patrol cars, yet made a unique and modern look that isn’t over the top or too flashy. They included reflective striping on the sides and back bumper that blends in with the paint during the day, but stands out at night when lit.

Judge’s Comments

This is a good-looking squad car. The true black-and-white color scheme works well. The red emblem/seal really sets it off.

Municipal Under 10 Officers, East

Locust Township Police
Catawissa, PA

For years Locust Township used a conventional black-and-white color scheme and decided to switch it up a little with input from officers in the department. The graphics are eye catching and very noticeable from a distance. The police decals on the side of the car are reflective and produce a holographic coloring when light hits them. The lighting on the car is a complete package of Whelen Products. The lightbar is a Liberty LED, with mirror lights, rear deck double LED, and rear flashers and flashing headlights.

Judge’s Comments

This car is unique; nice color scheme and roof line. POLICE really stands out with the yellow. We also like the placement of the silver band on the bottom of the door.

Municipal Under 10 Officers, West

Bay Police Department
Bay, AR

This design was chosen to reflect the contour and lines of the Charger. These graphics were designed by Chief of Police David Kelly and Art Advertising in Jonesboro, AR. The graphics on the seal are from the new seal that Kelly designed, reflecting the industry of the City of Bay. The graphics are unique to this department because prior to the purchase of the Chargers, this department had all unmarked units.

Judge’s Comments

This car has a good color combination with silver lettering on the dark background with a nice fade of dark to light on the stripe.

Sheriff Up to 25 Officers, East

Richmond County Sheriff’s Office
Warsaw, VA

The sheriff’s office works hard every day to make sure Richmond County is a safe place to live and play. Officers wanted their vehicles to reflect their involvement in the community. Some of the programs the sheriff’s office and its employees participate in include: Crime Stoppers, the Safe Guard Program and the Meals on Wheels Program.

Judge’s Comments

The clean marking is very legible and flows down the body line well. There is good reflective and good contrast with the color scheme. The star/badge and lettering make it easily recognizable as SHERIFF.

Sheriff Up to 25 Officers, West

Yuma County Sheriff’s Office
Wray, CO

After numerous years with white patrol cars, the sheriff decided on black Dodge Chargers. The design is simple and flows with the bodyline of the car. On the rear of the car it contains the badge in the center of the flag. The gold on black color combination matches Yuma County’s uniforms. The graphics were done by SVI Graphics in Loveland, CO, and the lights and were wired by Advanced Wireless Communications in Evans, CO.

Judge’s Comments

At first glance, this car says SHERIFF. The graphics pop out and blend well. The striping is unique, especially on the back corner with the incorporation of the badge.

Sheriff Over 25 Officers, East

Howard County Sheriff’s Office
Ellicott City, MD

The Howard County Sheriff car’s colors were changed to a more traditional black-and-white look. Reflective two-tone material was utilized with bold lettering to ensure visibility and officer safety for both day and nighttime operations. The color combinations for the graphics and seven-point star were closely coordinated to complement the colors of the vehicle, promoting a professional law enforcement look.

Judge’s Comments

We like the decals, and the boldness of the yellow on the side stands out—you can’t miss the shield! The gold suits the dark background and it is easily identifiable.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Nov/Dec 2009

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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