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Thread: Slick Top Police Cars

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    Forum Member Compelled93's Avatar
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    Slick Top Police Cars

    Hey Guys;

    Didn't know if any of you ever heard this before, but i hear that some departments are trying to switch to an all slicktop fleet rather than lightbars.

    Apparently there was as study done that Officers/deputies drive safer when they are in a slick top car rather than a car on a light bar, because apparently police tend to rely too much on the light bar and just assume that all motorists see it and will move, but with a slick top with interior LED's, officers/deputies are more cautious because they know their RMP is less visible.

    Anyone have any experience/heard of anything like this besides me?

    Thanks in advance, be safe.
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  2. #2
    Molon Labe LA DEP's Avatar
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    Havent heard of that.....we have some slicktop marked black/white radio cars (hybrid).....one thing that is worth noting; by policy, they are prohibited from being part of a vehicle pursuit once 'regular' radio cars join the pursuit.
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    You are correct. There have been a number of studies- Illinois State Police did the most detailed one back in the 80's- that show that slick top cars are involved in less crashes than cars with lightbars. With the increased savings in gasoline (MPG) due to aerodynamics and less cost for internal lights- many agencies have looked at using slick top, fully marked patrol cars.

    Our fleet is about 50/50 right now due to our fleet not wanting to install interior lights in Dodge Chargers. I have used both types of cars and prefer to have a slick-top. Much less wind noise from the lightbar and the car handles better on windy days because the aerodynamic design isn't corrupted by the lightbar.

    I might mention- the reason slick-top cars are safer than lightbar cars is a theory that came out of the study. I think they were shocked to find out that having a roof-top full of lights wasn't safer- more doesn't mean safer in this case.
    Last edited by KAA951; 06-01-2009 at 07:48 PM.
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    Forum Member Compelled93's Avatar
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    Very true KAA. Thanks for the insight.

    LA DEP, is there a particular reason that Slick Tops aren't allowed on a pursuit after light bars join in? I can't really think of one.

    Be safe.

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    I just like mine because there isn't as much wind noise. Never thought about the safety aspects. People tend to get out of the way just as well with my interior lights as they do a light bar.

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    Forum Member Compelled93's Avatar
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    interesting. Thanks, jthrope. Are Slicktops used for any specific purpose? Like Traffic Enforcement, i know here a lot of SWAT officers like to drive them, mainly because the detectives won't give up their unmarked for them. But besides that are they just used as a supplement to fully lit RMPs?

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    Molon Labe LA DEP's Avatar
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    Not exactly sure of the reasoning....our pursuit policy is VERY VERY strict.....with dire punishments for even thinking about violating it.....

    My best guess would be visibility.....the slick tops are a little less visible while running code vs a full light bar equipped radio car........which can increase civil liability out here in CA with all the lawyers running around......
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    The posts on this forum by this poster are of his personal opinion, and his personal opinion alone

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    We have about a 50-50 split and we have mostly Chargers. The interior lighting is more than adequate if you throw something in the grill. In fact our slick tops are almost overboard because they light up so well. Our push bars, mirrors (facing front), grills and windshields have LED's in them. From behind it is just a small red and blue LED in the back window. I am actually surprised we don't get rear ended more in those cars.
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    CSI Sucks 5031OKC's Avatar
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    The only slick top black and whites that we have are our traffic unit. We also have some unmarked cars that are slick tops. Everything else has light bars (rotators through 2008, LED bars for 2009 and on). As in LA, slick top cars can initiate a pursuit, but as soon as a car with overheads arrives it takes over and the slick top is supposed to pull out.

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    Forum Member Sheepdog110's Avatar
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    I use my alley lights like they're approaching an expiration date. Do slick tops have alley lights available?
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    Forum Member DACP's Avatar
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    LA DEP when you say pull out, are you talking totally as in shut it all down and go routine? Or pull out and fall in as a back up/follow behind unit non code? Seems to me at least, that there might be some issues if the initiating unit is not there at the end of the. But thems is da rules so we just do as told.
    We have 3 slick top’s, 2 belong to the traffic unit, the other is just a fleet vehicle and luck of the draw as to who gets it……………and if you ever want to see grown men fight, tell some one that they can not drive the slick top. Silly silly silly me, I don’t care just give me a vehicle that every thing works on and I am fine.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sheepdog110 View Post
    I use my alley lights like they're approaching an expiration date. Do slick tops have alley lights available?
    Not that I've seen

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    No alley lights on slick tops....My biggest reason for not wanting one if working Patrol.

  14. #14
    Retired Sergeant - CHP SgtCHP's Avatar
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    If anyone is interested, here is an article concerning the studies by the ISP and CHP.

    http://www.policedriving.com/article145.htm
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    "one for each of ya" AZLawDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DACP View Post
    LA DEP when you say pull out, are you talking totally as in shut it all down and go routine? Or pull out and fall in as a back up/follow behind unit non code? Seems to me at least, that there might be some issues if the initiating unit is not there at the end of the. But thems is da rules so we just do as told.
    With my dept, we have to fall back into a support unit role, still running code and everything, just following along, waiting for the inevitable "Terminate!", or "he Bailed out!".

    Any pursuit that I was involved in as the initiating officer in my slicktop, I was almost immediately relieved of Pursuit Commander duties and had to fall in behind a lightbar unit. This was 100 percent understandable, as the emergency lighting ( at the time ) was so poor, it was a bordering on an Officer Safety issue.
    Last edited by AZLawDawg; 06-02-2009 at 01:00 PM.
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    Forum Member SgtScott31's Avatar
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    We only have one slicktop right now, but the Chief will possibly make half of our 6-car fleet slicktops. They are great for traffic enforcement, particularly at night. I imagine it will be even better with the Chargers.
    I'm 10-8 like a shark in a sea of crime..

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    Forum Member CruiserClass's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KAA951 View Post
    Illinois State Police did the most detailed one back in the 80's- that show that slick top cars are involved in less crashes than cars with lightbars.

    Did they control for the type of enforcement the cars were used for? Running radar on the highway vs running code through city streets is going to have a different crash rate, regardless of light type and that would need to be controlled for.

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    Forum Member DACP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AZLawDawg View Post
    With my dept, we have to fall back into a support unit role, still running code and everything, just following along, waiting for the inevitable "Terminate!", or "he Bailed out!".

    Any pursuit that I was involved in as the initiating officer in my slicktop, I was almost immediately releved of Pursuit Commander duties and had to fall in behind a lightbar unit. This was 100 percent understandable, as the the emergency lighting ( at the time ) was so poor, it was a bordering on an Officer Safety issue.
    Thats what I was thinking.
    It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

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    Quote Originally Posted by CruiserClass View Post
    Did they control for the type of enforcement the cars were used for? Running radar on the highway vs running code through city streets is going to have a different crash rate, regardless of light type and that would need to be controlled for.
    The Illinois study moved 50% of their cars to slick top and then ran the study fleetwide / statewide regardless of rural / urban / interstate duties for 100,000 miles. They found that slicktop cars were 65% less likley to be involved in collisions over the same period / duties as a lightbar car.

    More lighting is not better.
    Last edited by KAA951; 06-02-2009 at 01:15 PM.
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  20. #20
    "one for each of ya" AZLawDawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KAA951 View Post
    The Illinois study moved 50% of their cars to slick top and then ran the study fleetwide / statewide regardless of rural / urban / interstate duties for 100,000 miles. They found that slicktop cars were 65% less likley to be involved in collisions over the same period / duties as a lightbar car.

    More lighting is not better.
    Interesting, did they come up with any reasons as to why? I'm guessing, from my own experiences in both kinds of cars, in a lightbar car - you are used to people seeing/noticing you quickly, so you may take more chances on a code run, driving a slicktop though, the complete opposite is true. You gotta jump right out and assume ( I know, I hate that word too ) absolutely nobody sees you - at all, ever. So you have to be extremely cautious - which of course, would result in fewer collisions.
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    I've seen alley lights on one of our slick tops before. We only use them for our Lieutenants and up, other than unmarked detectives of course.
    Better to be tried by 12 then carried by 6.

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    Forum Member Compelled93's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great and informative responses. How likely do you think it would it be that an agency goes to a 100% slicktop fleet? What would be the pros and cons of such a move?

    Thanks again. Be safe out there.

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    Last edited by Nobody; 06-04-2009 at 05:18 PM.

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    Forum Member DACP's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KAA951 View Post
    The Illinois study moved 50% of their cars to slick top and then ran the study fleetwide / statewide regardless of rural / urban / interstate duties for 100,000 miles. They found that slicktop cars were 65% less likley to be involved in collisions over the same period / duties as a lightbar car.

    More lighting is not better.
    I know there was a study of what was the best color to have the lights (red or blue)........ if any one has that please PM me with it or post it...........I wonder if the color, or combination of colors, along with light placement, had any effect on the study?
    It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

  25. #25
    Forum Member Compelled93's Avatar
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    Thank you.. er Nobody lol.. for the informative reply. I guess it has a big impact of safety, as you mentioned.

    Thanks all, stay safe.

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