1. #1
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    License Plates on Police Vehicles

    The short: Unmarked Cars that have obvious city plates.

    Here in the Chicago-land area most, if not all, city-owned vehicles have distinct license plates. The lettering is green and the first character is always 'M'. This applies to police vehicles as well, even the ones that are unmarked.

    In my ill-informed opinion, the only advantage I can see is that people wouldn't be able to detect an unmarked vehicle from a distance. ???

    I'm sure the police departments probably have cars with civilian type plates for sting operations and such but I assume they wouldn't really be used to pull someone over for a minor violation.

    I wanted to know the possible rationale(s) behind this (i.e. is this some sort of tactic or is this required by law?). Is this a hindrance to officers or does it help?

    Also, is this the same case in other states?

    (p.s., i did a search for this but didn't really find anything relevant)
    Last edited by zsayed; 08-14-2010 at 03:06 AM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by zsayed View Post
    The short: Unmarked Cars that have obvious city plates.

    Here in the Chicago-land area most, if not all, city-owned vehicles have distinct license plates. The lettering is green and the first character is always 'M'. This applies to police vehicles as well, even the ones that are unmarked.

    In my ill-informed opinion, the only advantage I can see is that people wouldn't be able to detect an unmarked vehicle from a distance. ???

    I'm sure the police departments probably have cars with civilian type plates for sting operations and such but I assume they wouldn't really be used to pull someone over for a minor violation.

    I wanted to know the possible rationale(s) behind this (i.e. is this some sort of tactic or is this required by law?). Is this a hindrance to officers or does it help?

    Also, is this the same case in other states?

    (p.s., i did a search for this but didn't really find anything relevant)
    In Texas...

    Marked polcie units bear EXEMPT tags. See example:

    Note: the new exempt tags are "flat" printed plates with 7 digits. They start at 100 for cars and trucks and at 900 for trailers.

    Unmarked cars generally bear standard Texas license plates:


    An unmarked car with EXEMPT tags can work traffic, but if the suspect fails to stop, it is not considered evading until a marked unit joins the pursuit.

    Unmarked units occassionally bear EXEMPT tags, but they are not used as undercover cars. For instance, our code enforcement officer drives a City car that has no markings but bears exempt tags on it.

    Additionally, exempt tags are used by all state and local government agenices in Texas to include school districts and I've even seen some churches have them since they are tax-exempt.
    Let your watchword be duty, and know no other talisman of success than labor. Let honor be your guiding star in your dealing with your superiors, with your fellows, with all. Be as true to a trust reposed as the needle to the pole. Stand by the right even to the sacrifice of life itself, and learn that death is preferable to dishonor. ~ Gov. Richard Coke, October 4, 1876

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    You will see both here in VA. Marked units have an L on the plate for city and county governments. State police have there own plate, and other state agencies will have an S. Some unmarked units used in Virginia Beach will have an L plate, some will have regular plates. It all depends on the use. The unmarked unit that I will pull when working traffic assignments has normal state plates, but you would know it is a unit by the extremely dark tinted windows and three antennas on the trunk.

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    Most of our unmarks, even the obvious ones, have standard tags.

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    I know I cant asnwer stuff here, but can I join in the question?



    So, would this certainly be a police car, or just a municipal car of some sort?

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    Quote Originally Posted by zsayed View Post
    T

    I'm sure the police departments probably have cars with civilian type plates for sting operations and such but I assume they wouldn't really be used to pull someone over for a minor violation.
    You'd assume wrong.

    Around here marked cars have "OFFICIAL" plates (tan with a star) and unmarked units (regardless of use) bear standard civilian plates.
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    Your assumption is incorrect. Alabama has distinct tags for each level of government. State, County, Municipal. We also use standard civilian tags on some LE vehicles. You can be stopped by any LE vehicle, regardless of the type of tag displayed. Stops are often made by unmarked vehicles.

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    All of ours have municipal tags.
    Being a good street cop is like coming to work in a wet suit and peeing in your pants. It's a nice warm feeling, but you're the only one who knows anything has happened.

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    Normally all the vehicles have U.S. Government plates, however a few have state plates for that class of vehicle, they are no different than any other plate in the state.
    It could be that the purpose of your life is only to serve as a warning to others.

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    Our undercover detectives vehicles will not be distinguishable from a regular vehicle on the road. Our Plain clothes detectives ie....burglary and theft detectives, violent crimes detectives, domestic violence detectives ect..... who wear regular professional clothing ie...polo shirt with dept logo on it, or button down shirt with tie and slacks, or even some wear suits, those guys drive an unmarked (not an undercover vehicle) unit that has "public" plates indicating local govt owned. The idea is you don't want a guy in a suit getting out of a marked unit with light bars ect...., simply because it looks ridiculous. Furthermore, it saves money, mostly they throw in windshield and rear window lights and a radio and the car is ready to roll. They don't need to be marked (costs money), they don't need light bars (cost money), they don't need computers (got them in their office) and D.L. readers and other stuff loaded in there (cost money). So not marking them out looks better for a plain clothes detective and saves alot of money.

    Some traffic cops will ride in vehicles unmarked but still display public tags and has light bars in the windows, the reasoning is simply to give a lower profile enabling them to catch more speeders, because generally you have to be right near the vehicle to see it's a cop car.
    Ignored: Towncop, Pulicords, TacoMac, Ten08

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasAggieOfc View Post
    In Texas...

    Marked polcie units bear EXEMPT tags. See example:

    Note: the new exempt tags are "flat" printed plates with 7 digits. They start at 100 for cars and trucks and at 900 for trailers.

    Unmarked cars generally bear standard Texas license plates:


    An unmarked car with EXEMPT tags can work traffic, but if the suspect fails to stop, it is not considered evading until a marked unit joins the pursuit.

    Unmarked units occassionally bear EXEMPT tags, but they are not used as undercover cars. For instance, our code enforcement officer drives a City car that has no markings but bears exempt tags on it.

    Additionally, exempt tags are used by all state and local government agenices in Texas to include school districts and I've even seen some churches have them since they are tax-exempt.
    Where does it state the marked/unmarked requirement for TX? All I see in the Transportation Code is statutes for authorized emergency vehicles and police vehicles, and the equipment requirements.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nex Superne View Post
    Where does it state the marked/unmarked requirement for TX? All I see in the Transportation Code is statutes for authorized emergency vehicles and police vehicles, and the equipment requirements.
    Quote Originally Posted by Transportation Code 541.201
    (13-a) "Police vehicle" means a vehicle used by a peace officer, as defined by Article 2.12, Code of Criminal Procedure, for law enforcement purposes that:

    (A) is owned or leased by a governmental entity;

    (B) is owned or leased by the police department of a private institution of higher education that commissions peace officers under Section 51.212, Education Code; or

    (C) is:

    (i) a private vehicle owned or leased by the peace officer; and

    (ii) approved for use for law enforcement purposes by the head of the law enforcement agency that employs the peace officer, or by that person's designee, provided that use of the private vehicle must, if applicable, comply with any rule adopted by the commissioners court of a county under Section 170.001, Local Government Code, and that the private vehicle may not be considered an authorized emergency vehicle for exemption purposes under Section 228.054, 284.070, 366.178, or 370.177, Transportation Code, unless the vehicle is marked.
    Quote Originally Posted by Transportation Code 545.421
    Sec. 545.421. FLEEING OR ATTEMPTING TO ELUDE POLICE OFFICER; OFFENSE. (a) A person commits an offense if the person operates a motor vehicle and wilfully fails or refuses to bring the vehicle to a stop or flees, or attempts to elude, a pursuing police vehicle when given a visual or audible signal to bring the vehicle to a stop.(b) A signal under this section that is given by a police officer pursuing a vehicle may be by hand, voice, emergency light, or siren. The officer giving the signal must be in uniform and prominently display the officer's badge of office. The officer's vehicle must bear the insignia of a law enforcement agency, regardless of whether the vehicle displays an emergency light.(c) Except as provided by Subsection (d), an offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor.(d) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor if the person, during the commission of the offense, recklessly engages in conduct that places another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury.(e) A person is presumed to have recklessly engaged in conduct placing another in imminent danger of serious bodily injury under Subsection (d) if the person while intoxicated knowingly operated a motor vehicle during the commission of the offense. In this subsection, "intoxicated" has the meaning assigned by Section 49.01, Penal Code.
    Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.Amended by: Acts 2009, 81st Leg., R.S., Ch. 1280, Sec. 1.21, eff. September 1, 2009.
    Quote Originally Posted by Transportation Code
    Sec. 721.004. INSCRIPTION REQUIRED ON MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY-OWNED MOTOR VEHICLES AND HEAVY EQUIPMENT. (a) The office having control of a motor vehicle or piece of heavy equipment owned by a municipality or county shall have printed on each side of the vehicle or equipment the name of the municipality or county, followed by the title of the department or office having custody of the vehicle or equipment.

    (b) The inscription must be in a color sufficiently different from the body of the vehicle or equipment so that the lettering is plainly legible.

    (c) The title of the department or office must be in letters plainly legible at a distance of not less than 100 feet.



    Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995.





    Sec. 721.005. EXEMPTION FROM INSCRIPTION REQUIREMENT FOR CERTAIN MUNICIPAL AND COUNTY-OWNED MOTOR VEHICLES. (a) The governing body of a municipality may exempt from the requirements of Section 721.004:

    (1) an automobile when used to perform an official duty by a:

    (A) police department;

    (B) magistrate as defined by Article 2.09, Code of Criminal Procedure;

    (C) medical examiner;

    (D) municipal code enforcement officer designated to enforce environmental criminal laws; or

    (E) municipal fire marshal or arson investigator; or

    (2) an automobile used by a municipal employee only when conducting an investigation involving suspected fraud or other mismanagement within the municipality.

    (b) The commissioners court of a county may exempt from the requirements of Section 721.004:

    (1) an automobile when used to perform an official duty by a:

    (A) police department;

    (B) sheriff's office;

    (C) constable's office;

    (D) criminal district attorney's office;

    (E) district attorney's office;

    (F) county attorney's office;

    (G) magistrate as defined by Article 2.09, Code of Criminal Procedure;

    (H) county fire marshal's office; or

    (I) medical examiner; or

    (2) a juvenile probation department vehicle used to transport children, when used to perform an official duty.

    (c) An exemption provided under this section does not apply to a contract deputy.



    Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 165, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1995. Amended by Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 355, Sec. 1, eff. May 27, 1997; Acts 1997, 75th Leg., ch. 46, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 1997; Acts 1999, 76th Leg., ch. 62, Sec. 17.38, eff. Sept. 1, 1999; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 66, Sec. 1, eff. May 14, 2001; Acts 2001, 77th Leg., ch. 140, Sec. 1, eff. Sept. 1, 2001.

    Amended by:

    Acts 2007, 80th Leg., R.S., Ch. 45, Sec. 1, eff. May 8, 2007.
    Let your watchword be duty, and know no other talisman of success than labor. Let honor be your guiding star in your dealing with your superiors, with your fellows, with all. Be as true to a trust reposed as the needle to the pole. Stand by the right even to the sacrifice of life itself, and learn that death is preferable to dishonor. ~ Gov. Richard Coke, October 4, 1876

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    Thanks - I think you mentioned this in another thread but I didn't see a reference. Now for a side question, having to do with TC 545.421 (Fleeing or attempting to elude) - that seems to contradict (a bit, notwithstanding the marked vehicle part) the offense as listed in the Penal code. Would the difference be that "knowing" the pursuing person is a peace officer be that of a marked vehicle, in uniform, etc.?

    Sec. 38.04. EVADING ARREST OR DETENTION. (a) A person commits an offense if he intentionally flees from a person he knows is a peace officer attempting lawfully to arrest or detain him.

    (b) An offense under this section is a Class A misdemeanor, except that the offense is:

    (1) a state jail felony if:

    (A) the actor has been previously convicted under this section; or

    (B) the actor uses a vehicle while the actor is in flight and the actor has not been previously convicted under this section;

    (2) a felony of the third degree if:

    (A) the actor uses a vehicle while the actor is in flight and the actor has been previously convicted under this section; or

    (B) another suffers serious bodily injury as a direct result of an attempt by the officer from whom the actor is fleeing to apprehend the actor while the actor is in flight; or

    (3) a felony of the second degree if another suffers death as a direct result of an attempt by the officer from whom the actor is fleeing to apprehend the actor while the actor is in flight.

    (c) In this section, "vehicle" has the meaning assigned by Section 541.201, Transportation Code.

    (d) A person who is subject to prosecution under both this section and another law may be prosecuted under either or both this section and the other law.

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nex Superne View Post
    Thanks - I think you mentioned this in another thread but I didn't see a reference. Now for a side question, having to do with TC 545.421 (Fleeing or attempting to elude) - that seems to contradict (a bit, notwithstanding the marked vehicle part) the offense as listed in the Penal code. Would the difference be that "knowing" the pursuing person is a peace officer be that of a marked vehicle, in uniform, etc.?
    That would be their argument at least. That's why any time I do an evading report it always spells out that I was in a marked police unit with Texas EXEMPT plates and red and blue lights with the city name and POLICE spelt out, while wearing a distinctive uniform that identified me as a Peace Officer with a badge and patches and what they say.
    Let your watchword be duty, and know no other talisman of success than labor. Let honor be your guiding star in your dealing with your superiors, with your fellows, with all. Be as true to a trust reposed as the needle to the pole. Stand by the right even to the sacrifice of life itself, and learn that death is preferable to dishonor. ~ Gov. Richard Coke, October 4, 1876

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nex Superne View Post
    Where does it state the marked/unmarked requirement for TX? All I see in the Transportation Code is statutes for authorized emergency vehicles and police vehicles, and the equipment requirements.
    It all depends on the local DA's office and how aggressive they are on prosecuting cases vs how worried they are about creating case law/preserving their conviction rate.

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    Unmarked does not mean undercover. No one is trying to hide the fact that it is an official vehicle.

  17. #17
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    Marked municipal police cars have a governmental plate with 4, 5 , 6 or 7 black numbers on a white background.
    Marked County Sheriff cars have a white background with S-(officer badge number)
    Marked State Patrol have a 2-3 digit number indicating the Troopers badge number
    DOT enforcement have a T-(badge number) plate
    DNR Law Enforcement have a C-(badge number (C=Conservation)

    The state has a pool of normal county issued plates for unmarked cars. These are "covered" plates and will come back as "not in computerized files" if run . The plates can be rotated on a regular or irregular basis so a car can have a Linn County plate one day and a Wapello County plate next week if the department so desires. All agencies using unmarked police vehicles have access to this poll.


    Undercover cars.................................you wouldn't know it is any different from your personal car. They too will come back "not in computerized file"
    And your administrator will get a call saying you ran it the next day.
    Last edited by Iowa #1603; 08-16-2010 at 09:17 AM.
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    We have RED plates for Municiple vehicles, IE. Local Police, Town or City Highway Departments and School bus as well. Our Unmarked vehicles have regular green VT plates. We even have an under cover vehicle with out of State plate.

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    In Maryland some unmarks have those municipal or state license plates. Most however look just like everyone elses and the tags either don't come back to anything, or will come back to the department who is renting the vehicle if it's rented

  20. #20
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    Oh yeah. Our unmarked and undercovers have tags that are not taceable. When run on the computer, it comes back "not on file."
    Being a good street cop is like coming to work in a wet suit and peeing in your pants. It's a nice warm feeling, but you're the only one who knows anything has happened.

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