Editor's Note: For more pictures of police cars mentioned in this article, view our gallery, "Sporty Police Vehicles." This story first appeared on Government-Fleet.com.
Crown Victorias and Dodge Chargers may be among the most typical makes and models of police cars used in the U.S. today.
However, some departments have a handful of "sportier" cars, many of which are used in special ways. From Corvettes and Mustangs to a Porsche Carrera and Cadillacs, some police officers get a chance to drive some of the fastest sports vehicles in the world while on duty.
In many cases these fleet vehicles are used as a symbol of law en-forcement within a community, and are often displayed at community events. They also are frequently used when law enforcement officials are engaged in educational activities with local elementary, middle and high school students.
Yet when these sporty cars are asked to go on police runs, the advantage of speed is also apparent and obvious, according to some police officers and personnel.
The Hoover (Ala.) Police Department does have a 2001 Porsche Carrera 911 as part of its fleet. The vehicle was confiscated in 2007 as part of a drug bust where the driver who was stopped was found with 10 kilos of cocaine in the vehicle.
It took some time for the process to be completed so that the department could use the confiscated sports car to meet its needs. Chief Nicholas Derzis saw an opportunity to use the vehicle as an educational tool and for special events, something that the city often hosted. In fact, there are more than 60 events during the average year within the city limits, said Cpt. James Coker.
"Think about it we had an opportunity to use a vehicle of that quality that didn't cost us anything so in retrospect what a great thing to seize," Coker said. "We even used drug money to outfit it."
The Porsche is always driven by one police officer and while it is often used for special events, it can be used on runs as needed.
"It's pretty well known in our community that you want to be careful not to have a Porsche with blue headlights following you," Coker said. "It is a marked police unit even if it is not an active patrol. We would and have asked it to respond when needed."
"Let's put it this way - that vehicle does attract a lot of interest on the interstate."
The Bloomfield Hills (Mich.) Police Department has a unique contact within its department that allows it to use a number of sports cars made by General Motors on a short-term basis. Sgt. Noel Clason of Bloomfield Hills Police has also worked for General Motors Police Vehicles division for more than 12 years, and that relationship has allowed him to secure specialty General Motors vehicles for the city over the years.
For several warm-weather months during a calendar year, Bloomfield Hills gets to use one or more of a variety of GM models such as the Chevrolet Corvette, Cadillac CTS Sport, and the Cadillac XLR-V, which is a $100,000-plus retail vehicle. Generally the department will use a single vehicle for around 30 days at a time before returning it to General Motors.
These vehicles are often used at area parades and special events such as the Woodward Dream Cruise, one of the largest organized classic car cruises in the world, held every year in suburban Detroit along a multi-mile stretch of Woodward Avenue.
"We'll get a vehicle from the GM Performance Division and outfit it to meet our needs for a short period of time," Clason said. "Then when we are done we're tear it down a bit and return the vehicle to General Motors undamaged."
Each vehicle that the Bloomfield Hills Police Department gets from General Motors may be a bit different. For example, Clason used a Cadillac last summer for about a month that included a huge decal of an American flag on the side with the wording, "Support Our Troops." That vehicle was used during the Woodward Dream Cruise.
"We'll add a temporary light bar from our demo fleet and add it to these specialty vehicles," Clason said. "We'll make a number of special appearances during the course of the summer."
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."