FREE e-Newsletter
Important News - Hot Topics
Get them Now!
Paul Clinton

Paul Clinton

As the POLICE Web editor, Paul Clinton contributes posts about patrol cars, motorcycles, and other police vehicles. He previously wrote about automotive electronics as managing editor of Mobile Electronics. Prior to that, he was an award-winning newspaper reporter.



William Harvey

William Harvey

William "Bill" Harvey is currently serving as chief of police in south central Pennsylvania. He retired from the Savannah (Ga.) Police Department where he worked assignments in training, patrol, and CID. Harvey has more than 25 years of experience working with recruits, rookies, and FTOs.
Careers

Houston PD's Traffic Enforcement Unit

The officers of the Traffic Enforcement Division catch aggressive and intoxicated motorists.

April 30, 2013  |  by - Also by this author

Photo courtesy of Larry Baimbridge.
Photo courtesy of Larry Baimbridge.
An unlikely sponsor has helped the Houston Police Department's Traffic Enforcement Division replace aging patrol cars with V-8 Chevrolet Camaros and Dodge Chargers to catch aggressive drivers and drunk drivers.

Mario Williams, the Buffalo Bills NFL star who befriended officers when he played for the Houston Texans, donated the 10 stealth vehicles over the past two years to a productive unit that issued 100,000 tickets for moving violations and accounts for half the agency's drunk-driving arrests. In 2012, the unit arrested 3,000 suspects for DWI.

To achieve its prolific enforcement numbers, the division deploys the unmarked cars during enforcement stings on highways that run through city limits such as interstates 10, 45, 610 and 69. Various toll ways and state routes also crisscross through the nation's fourth largest city. Texas troopers handle highway enforcement in the suburban and rural areas.

Powered by 6.2-liter and 5.7-liter V-8s respectively, the Camaros and Chargers sneak up on speeders and aggressive weavers without much warning. The 2011 model-year Camaros are known as the "ghosts" because of their white-shaded "Houston Police" lettering on a white paint scheme. The 2013 Chargers are known as "phantoms" because of their black-shaded lettering on a black paint scheme.

"They're great for aggressive drivers," Capt. Larry Baimbridge tells POLICE. "They don't see them until it's too late. That's where the paint and stickers comes into play."

Photo courtesy of Larry Baimbridge.
Photo courtesy of Larry Baimbridge.
The agency has thanked Williams, who has expressed an interest in law enforcement when his playing days are over. Chief Charles A. McClelland, Jr. presented Williams an honorary badge at a March ceremony.

"I wanted to give back to the city of Houston and to the men and women who put their lives on the line protecting the city," Williams told POLICE in an email. "Ever since I've been out of college, law enforcement has been something that I looked heavily into, so it kind of became something that I was fond of."

Because the Camaros are designed as retail vehicles, the enforcement unit needed to modify them for law enforcement use. Most notably, the Camaros can't transport prisoners, Baimbridge said.

The department's mechanics custom-made the center console and in-vehicle computer to fit into the Camaro's smaller cockpit. A Whelan lightbar was added, along with LED lights along the upper inside edge of the windshield and rear window. Emergency lighting was added to the side panels and grill.

"When you light them up, it lights up like a Christmas tree," Baimbridge said.

Photo courtesy of Larry Baimbridge.
Photo courtesy of Larry Baimbridge.
The department also added a larger alternator to the Camaro to adjust for idling. That way the vehicle's lighting package doesn't kill the battery.

The traffic unit is staffed by 130 officers, a captain, five lieutenants and 20 sergeants. They work various shifts. Some are assigned radar or LIDAR enforcement, while the others search for drunk drivers at night. Patrol officers are encouraged to apply for the role, Baimbridge said.

"We're very selective," Baimbridge added. "We try to take motivated officers. If you enjoy doing traffic and DWIs, this is a great division to work in."

Tags: Houston PD, Traffic Enforcement, Dodge Charger, Chevrolet, General Motors, Special Assignments


Comments (9)

Displaying 1 - 9 of 9

Rick @ 5/2/2013 4:37 PM

I want one!

Capt. Crunch @ 5/2/2013 6:29 PM

That Camaro is so cool that it belongs in California.

Cam @ 5/3/2013 3:35 AM

I do not care if they drive pickup trucks, I am glad to see a city take traffic issues, ESPECIALLY DUI'S, seriously. The donation seemed to be from the heart. Wish more folks would realize that they want to be protected from everything from a hang nail to violence in schools to terrorism, but it takes money. You can only stretch a dwindling budget so much. Thank you Mr. Williams. Hope more see this and decide to start a bandwagon!

FireCop @ 5/3/2013 4:47 AM

I agree with Cam...nice to see an agency really and truly take traffic enforcement seriously. Many Sheriff's order their guys to put the ticket books away when election times are near, or police Chiefs don't allow unmarked cars because 'we have to be visible'.....if we want to stop the carnage on our highways we need to do what Houston has done. Great program. Stay safe.

Troop @ 5/5/2013 5:19 PM

Holy crap! A department with cajones to run unmarked traffic enforcement cars! The nerve! Great job HPD. The rest of the country needs to take your idea and go with it!

Shadow_officer @ 5/21/2013 5:10 PM

Several agencies in Arkansas run stealth vehicles for their Traffic Units or Interdiction Units. And they do a great job too.

Trigger @ 5/29/2013 10:23 AM

SWEET!!!!

1F61 @ 5/30/2013 6:21 PM

We had a traffic enforcement unit that used unmarked Ford & Dodge trucks, lasted 4 years till it was re-election time and our beloved sheriff got rid of it because we were too good and wrote too many tickets and made too many DUI arrests and were upsetting the poor voters, even though crashes had dropped 60% and fatalities were down 45%. Hate to upset a voter.

Salty @ 5/28/2014 6:00 PM

I live running traffic! In my opinion it is the best unit on a police/sheriffs department. Would love to work for a larger department like Houston with so many shifts within the traffic unit to move around in. Keep up the great work!

Join the Discussion





POLICE Magazine does not tolerate comments that include profanity, personal attacks or antisocial behavior (such as "spamming" or "trolling"). This and other inappropriate content or material will be removed. We reserve the right to block any user who violates this, including removing all content posted by that user.

Other Recent Blog Posts

"Unarmed" Suspects and Un-brained Media
Few if any pseudo-journalists or pseudo-pundits on the nightly news have bothered to...

Get Your FREE Trial Issue and Win a Gift! Subscribe Today!
Yes! Please rush me my FREE TRIAL ISSUE of POLICE magazine and FREE Officer Survival Guide with tips and tactics to help me safely get out of 10 different situations.

Just fill in the form to the right and click the button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.

If POLICE does not satisfy you, just write "cancel" on the invoice and send it back. You'll pay nothing, and the FREE issue is yours to keep. If you enjoy POLICE, pay only $25 for a full one-year subscription (12 issues in all). Enjoy a savings of nearly 60% off the cover price!

Offer valid in US only. Outside U.S., click here.
It's easy! Just fill in the form below and click the red button to receive your FREE Trial Issue.
First Name:
Last Name:
Rank:
Agency:
Address:
City:
State:
  
Zip Code:
 
Country:
We respect your privacy. Please let us know if the address provided is your home, as your RANK / AGENCY will not be included on the mailing label.
E-mail Address:

Police Magazine