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Sporty Police Cars

April 01, 2011  |  by Mike Scott

Best of all there is virtually no cost to the city of Bloomfield Hills for using these "loaner" vehicles. The only costs are small logistical and the occasional maintenance cost. But the vehicles help to greatly increase police presence in the community, an upscale suburb where many General Motors executives traditionally live. The specialty vehicles may also be used in an educational capacity.

"The kids love them but so do many of their parents," Clason said. "You can see it in the eyes of the fathers who are as excited about the Cadillacs as some of their kids are."

The attention has spread far beyond the borders of the city of Bloomfield Hills and even the United States, Clason said. He had seen pictures of Bloomfield Hills Police Cadillacs on Chinese websites before.

"We're very community oriented and this is a great way to help us interact with our residents," Clason said.

Another vehicle that attracts a significant amount of attention is the 2010 Chevrolet Camaro used by the Ochiltree County (Tex.) constable, Dwain Read. Most often this sports car is also used as a public relations tool by Read, whose department does a significant amount of truancy work for local school systems.

The Camaro, equipped with law enforcement lighting and a siren; a two-way radio, camera and other "police" package items, can also be used as a pursuit vehicle, Read said.

"It is an awesome pursuit vehicle when we have to put it to that use and I can say that no one really outruns me," Read said. "But the biggest benefit is the message it sends to kids that we are working with or trying to communicate with. It attracts their attention and almost forces them to listen to us a bit more."

Read understands that some students are most interested in listening to his message of staying abreast of the law because they want to learn more about the Camaro after his classroom or seminar speech. But that's just fine with him.

"Whatever gets them to listen and in-teract is fine with me," Read said with a laugh.

Some departments around the country have used sports cars as part of their fleets in the past but no longer use them. One example is the Arkansas State Police, which for several years used a handful of Camaros as stealth vehicles on state highways. However the ASP decided not to use Camaros long term said PIO Bill Sadler.

The specialty vehicles that General Motors supplies the Bloomfield Hills Police Department with are used as working police cars as needed, Clason said. However they are not used as tactical vehicles. Some officers have given out speeding tickets in the community when driving some of their Cadillac and Camaro loaner vehicles, but officers never speed with them or go on high-speed chases.

"We do keep our gear in there but the last thing we want to do is wreck one of these cars because they it does become a significant expense," Clason said.

The Hoover Police Department also uses its Porsche as a recruiting tool when hiring for internal department positions, Coker said. And it is used to draw attention to police presence at many of the community's events such as the annual Bruno's Memorial Senior PGA Classic, the annual Southeastern Conference college baseball tournament and more.

Nearby Barber Motorsports Park hosts a number of charitable activities during the year, including Porsche races and events where the vehicle's presence is also noticed, Coker said.

"When it comes to recruiting the best officers possible, we need to think competitively so that we can attract good candidates - just like any business," Coker said. "The Porsche is really great to use at university recruiting days."

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