And the Best Dressed Police Vehicle is…
Congratulations to all the winners of Blue Line’s Best Dressed Police Vehicle Awards, which showcases innovative, sustainable and effective designs. We look for clear identification, graphic designs that enhance visibility, design elements that show directionality of travel and effective integration of equipment and controls. Thank you to everyone who submitted and stay tuned for 2019’s call for submissions.
1st Place – Windsor Police Service
2017 Dodge Charger
Windsor Police officer Steven Gawadzyn, a self-proclaimed ‘gear head,’ wanted to design a tribute car for 2017, commemorating not only Canada’s 150th but also Windsor Police Service’s (WPS) coinciding 150th anniversary.
With its bold custom 150th crest on the hood, the sleek black front end contrasting with the stark white roof and trunk — plus the police crest on the front quarter panel that is a throw back to the 1980s — the resulting 2017 Dodge Charger does just that and more.
“The public loved this design so much the chief has decided the rest of our fleet will now look like this — with the exception of the 150th hood crest — starting in 2018,” Gawadzyn says, noting the black front end and simple white lettering recalls the police vehicle style from the 1930s, while the white sections point to the 40s through to the 60s.
“The blue P-O-L-I-C-E lettering on the vehicles reflects the style from the early 2000s and ‘Windsor’ has been added above for a modernized approach,” he continues.
The 390-horsepower Charger is an all-wheel-drive (AWD), five-speed automatic with a 5.7-litre Hemi and no other performance modifications. However, you’ll find some pretty unique custom features inside and out. The rear tail lights on a Charger typically light up around the word “Dodge.” Not so with this Windsor Police car.
“We put in ‘150th Anniversary’ in reflective lettering instead,” Gawadzyn says. Custom 150th Anniversary badges were also produced and affixed to the dashboard, in place of where the factory dash nameplate is usually found.
“It’s just some extra cool things that no other police department has done, as far as we know,” he says. “When we introduced it to the officers, the first thing that was said was, ‘Can I drive this?’ It was time for a refresh.”
The singular anniversary badge with its red ribbon (reading 1867-2017) that dominates the hood is sure to grab some attention. Created in partnership with marketing graphics firm HCA Mindbox, the design screams out with its loud “150” and tasteful red and blue fade in the background, as well as subtly saluting Canada with a maple leaf.
The assigned vehicle number is 6744, honouring the badge number and memory of Senior Const. John Atkinson, who was killed in the line of duty on May 5, 2006.
“I was working that day,” Gawadzyn says. “It’s not something you ever forget. It’s our history. So I wanted to ensure this anniversary car spoke to his memory.”
Atkinson’s badge is also proudly displayed on both sides of the cruiser.
“Everyone loves a cool car,” Gawadzyn says. “There’s no barriers with this — it’s a common draw.”
This is the second time WPS has won the Best Dressed contest.
2nd place – Treaty Three Police Service
2017 Chevrolet Tahoe
The bear represents a protector in many First Nations cultures, according to Staff Sgt. Terry McCaffrey of Treaty Three Police Service (T3PS), headquartered in Kenora, Ont. — “especially here with the Treaty Three Nation,” which includes 28 First Nation communities (23 are policed by T3PS).
So it was important for T3PS — Canada’s second largest First Nation policing organization — to include the finely detailed Ursidae on its new vehicle design.
“We want our communities to see our vehicles and see that we are deeply rooted in our culture — that we’re a culturally sensitive police service, which we are,” McCaffrey says.
The vibrant colour scheme of orange and red remains the same, complementary to the T3PS patch, which was designed by a local resident, McCaffrey adds.
“The general consensus in speaking to the officers led to this new design,” he says, “and it’s night and day. Our officers are more proud of this design and far prefer driving these vehicles.”
That’s no small victory, as T3PS officers do a lot of driving — the service’s territory spans 55,000 square miles of the Greater Treaty Three Region in Northwestern Ontario.
About 40 per cent of vehicles have been redesigned with the bear image and McCaffrey expects the entire fleet to have been updated by the end of the year.
The vehicles are serviced by Kerr Industries out of Oshawa, Ont., for lighting packages, etc., and once they reach Kenora, a local dealer (Trimline) works on the decaling.
The winning Tahoe is a six-speed automatic with 383 ft-lb of torque and a 5.7-litre, 355-horsepower V8 engine.
“It’s just a beauty to drive,” McCaffrey says.
3rd place – Delta Police Department
2016 Ford Interceptor Utility
By Chief Neil Dubord with Norm Morrison
To celebrate the Delta Police Department’s (DPD) 125th anniversary, the Chief Herald of Canada created a new badge, which led to a redesign of the fleet. The new badge was a departure from the traditional red and blue of the DPD, instead creating a green and gold design to reflect the municipality.
Delta is a historic fishing and farming community and the predominantly green badge is a reflection of its history and culture.
Current police vehicle trends are seeing black and white and solid black vehicles. During the design phase, staff conducted research into the colours and it was determined that a white vehicle reflects the principles and foundation of Delta’s community-based policing. We took the lead from the United Nations, who uses white vehicles because of the colour’s symbolic statement of peace.
In order to maintain public support, and to encourage approachability of the police, a vehicle needs to be minimally aggressive yet strong in its messaging. The design, which includes a bold black stripe with pinstripes of green and gold, allows for high visibility, while creating a modern look. We believe the design strikes a balance between strength, approachability and simplicity.
Daytime and nighttime effects were considered equally to improve the visibility and ultimately, officer safety. A key feature is the use of illumination qualities of the 3M product. Fusing art and functionality, a subdued DPD badge on the back quarter panel is noticeable during the day, but at night it illuminates even more brightly.
The vehicle is an all-wheel-drive 2016 Ford Interceptor Utility. We order the vehicle with the V6, 305-horsepower engine paired with a six-speed automatic transmission. Our order from Ford also includes driver and passenger front ballistic door panels, factory installed emergency lights in the headlight and taillight housings, lift gate emergency lights, rear audio reverse warning sensors, back-up camera and driver’s side spotlight.
Several thousand dollars of additional equipment is installed by two highly skilled mechanics at the city works yard, Shayne Khan and Don Kirkpatrick. The additional aftermarket equipment includes roof light bars, front push bumpers with angle lighting and dual siren speakers, model-specific consoles to house the police radio and siren controllers, laptop stands and docking stations, prisoner compartment and rear window poly barriers, a dual weapon rack for the C-8 patrol rifle and 870 shotgun, and a tri mode roof mount antenna for the police radio, MDT and GPS.
Honourable mention – Sûreté du Québec
2017 Dodge Charger
By Geneviève Daoust with Daniel Thibaudeau
The Sûreté du Québec’s new look — black with a touch of khaki and ocher, contrasted with white on the doors — is a major change for the organization whose colours have been essentially the same for more than three decades. Similar, the former lettering has been the same since 2005. With added safety and functionality in mind, these new vehicles retain a touch of the old familiar yellow and olive green, keeping with the Sûreté’s distinctive identity and history.
All aesthetics aside, North American studies confirm that these contrasting colours offer a much greater visibility, allowing increased safety for the public and our personnel. All markings are made of a highly reflective film. The contrasting black and white also provides optimum visibility under all weather conditions.
We have also completely revamped our emergency lights, going with the brighter and more energy-efficient LED systems.
Aerodynamic and smaller than previous lights bars, this new technology is less demanding on the engine, leading to savings on batteries and gas. Zone Technologies Inc., based in Chambly, Que., manufactured the lights and warning beacons.
The Sûreté continues its choice of the five-speed automatic, six-cylinder propulsion Dodge Charger. However, the 2017 trunk space has been reconfigured, allowing for more room and better access to essential emergency equipment. Push bars are standard on all models but now come with lateral LED lights for increased visibility. This changeover for our 1,060-vehicle fleet will take place gradually over the next three years, without any added costs to the public. The old vehicles will be simply rotated out when they have reached 200,000 km.
Community Relations – Vancouver Police Department
2016 Dodge Charger
“Our members are our caretakers of the city,” says Sharm Thiagarajah, the creative director in Vancouver Police Department’s (VPD) public affairs section. “It’s like Batman. So whenever they’re driving, I want them to feel empowered.”
Thiagarajah and a special VPD committee are the ones behind the refreshed look for the department’s recruiting 3.6-litre Dodge Charger, featuring a non-turbocharged, V6 engine and two-wheel rear-drive. Find it throughout Vancouver at parades and other public events as well as sitting pretty, front and centre, for all kinds of educational occasions and outreach.
Form and function must always go hand in hand for vehicle redesigns, according to Thiagarajah, who saw the Charger and noticed the potential in its “beautiful lines.”
“When it came to the design, we wanted the car to fit with the rest of the fleet and feel like part of the family, while still being true to what recruiting is all about for us, as well as true to the soul of Vancouver.”
Call it a cousin of the VPD patrol call, she says. A retro cousin.
“We had to keep it sporty and punchy but also wanted a retro vibe, as VPD started in 1886.”
The history component raises the car to teaching tool status, too, as “Since 1886” runs in a large outlined font on the doors. The accompanying orange font and decaling — as well as the modern hashtag #JoinUs — was also a multi-purpose choice.
“Orange is one of our colours and it’s a really retro colour,” Thiagarajah says. “It is connected to the idea of strength and, like amber, it draws attention.”
Additionally, orange highlights the wider Vancouver community, she says.
“We are very sensitive to community needs… Everything we do, we do with diversity in mind. Orange is a multicultural colour, embraced by many cultures. It’s a powerful and spiritual colour for many of the different communities we serve.”
Law enforcement – U of T – Mississauga Campus Police
2016 Ford Explorer
The University of Toronto – Mississauga Campus Police says it prides itself on the “approachability” of its Police Package Ford Explorer, made over in 2016 for a more “clean and progressive” look that “echoes campus life.”
The branding on the cruiser incorporates the official U of T colours (blue and white), notes Cpl. Bobbi-Jo Duff of the Campus Police Service, and all three campuses now boast the same look for uniformity.
The students like how the cruiser — an all-wheel-drive six-speed with a 304-horsepower, 3.7-litre V6 — isn’t “in your face,” Duff says. “It’s not intimidating,” she explains. “There’s a nice flow and it’s community-friendly, which is big as what we do is community focused.”
This vehicle is outfitted to function as a mobile command post. Features include a custom metal slide lockbox in the trunk, 28 hidden stealth strobe lights, a provincially approved cab partition, speaker horn and shatterproof window film. The cruiser is also equipped with an Internet-connected Toshiba Toughbook to serve as a remote workspace.
“We really promote our cruiser on social media; it’s on the front page of our pamphlet,” Duff says. “We are very proud of it.”
For more on past Mississauga campus police vehicles (including a vintage Crown Victoria with a bright forest green strip from the Erindale College days), visit their Instagram page and watch for the #ThrowBackThursday posts.
Special service – Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of B.C.
2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid
The integrated anti-gang police agency, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit – B.C. (CFSEUBC), has a secret weapon in their fleet of unmarked cars and they used it not too long ago to pull over a street-level drug dealer in Abbotsford, B.C.
“We ended up arresting the suspect and seizing the drugs… but all he wanted to do was get his picture with our vehicle,” says Staff Sgt. Lindsey Houghton with the Organized Crime Agency of B.C. (OCA) and CFSEUBC. “He thought it was the coolest thing; the gang cops had pulled him over in the Caddy.”
From that, the unit built up more rapport with this individual and he has now exited the drug-dealing lifestyle, according to Houghton.
“It’s these type of stories that show what this vehicle is all about for us.”
The 2010 Cadillac Escalade Hybrid has been fully outfitted with emergency equipment — including a Howler and the Whelen Engineering Warning package that centres around the new Cencom Carbide siren system.
It boasts a 6-litre aluminum V8 engine with not only variable valve timing but also active fuel management. With automatic transmission, 332-horsepower and 367 ft-lb of torque (which is less than the non-hybrid version, according to Houghton, but it can “still tow a significant amount if we need to hook up a trailer for a command post”), the hybrid Cadillac also comes with two electric motors.
“We have no quote-on-quote police cars so we wanted to get a car that could not only be OCA’s first police car and only police car but also one that fits with our end gang life brand and outreach, plus one with utilitarian aspects,” Houghton says. “We smile a little bit at the cliché of a Cadillac Escalade, as its known to be a bit of a gangster car… and this one was previously owned by a drug dealer.”
Beefing up the vehicle into a one-of-a-kind gang squad beast went beyond slapping on some shiny reflective 3M decals, Houghton adds.
The Caddy is fully shrouded in a matte black wrap, so “the yellow font and branding pops off the background,” he says.
Low-profile smoked ions offer a covert look on the finish and the windshield and rear window have concealed inner edges that allow for warning lights, takedown lights as well as a Traffic Advisor. The Tracer running board lights are also up-fitted in such a way to better utilize a light array for multiple uses, Houghton notes. Dual avenger dash lights installed in the rear windows offer alley lights and warning in an optical lighthead.
Custom LED lighting has been installed in the front grill, under the vehicle and on the sides — places where the LED colours can be modified for that extra “cool factor.”
“The lighting on it is unbelievable,” Houghton says. “It’s like a Clark Griswold Christmas tree. I’m pretty sure you can see if from the space station.”