Blue Line Magazine is pleased to select the Amherstburg Police Service as the 2016 winner of Canada's Best Dressed Police Vehicle Award. The design was described by the judges as not only memorable but breathtaking.
The Amherstburg police vehicle was selected for a look and style appropriate to the community's heritage and history, improved lighting and innovative prisoner transport – but its unique design carried the most weight.
Incorporating a line of red-coats at the ready, it clearly shows the service respects the history of its region. The area was a community of refuge for dislocated families during the troubling periods between 1790 and 1830 – loyalists fleeing retribution after the American revolution, First Nations peoples dispossessed of their lands by encroaching settlers and runaway slaves escaping the oppression of southern landowners. They all found protection under the thin red line of British and Canadian soldiers guarding this famous frontier.
A community of refuge
Amherstburg, nestled along the shores of Lake Erie and the Detroit River, is one of the oldest settlements in South Western Ontario. Located in Essex County, the most southern region in Canada, and just 20 kilometres from the international border, Amherstburg is home to more than 20,000 people.
The town, steeped in historic charm with its waterfront setting and regional location, offers a world of opportunities for its growing population. Its century old buildings share the streetscape with modern architectural structures, linking the past with the present, combining small town charm and great hospitality.
The town, dockyard and the original Fort Amherstburg, constructed in 1796, guarded the Detroit River and played a strategic role in the defense and development of Upper Canada. The fort was burned by the British when they were forced to retreat in 1813. Americans occupied it from October 1813 until July 1815 when the British regained control. Its replacement, Fort Malden, was built in 1838 and played a pivotal role in the British defense during the Upper Canada Rebellion. Today, Fort Malden is a living monument to the region and it's past.
The War of 1812 bicentennial celebrations in 2012 prompted the service to pay tribute to the past in the graphic design of its new police cruisers. The red clad, musket carrying British soldiers who regained control of the area from the Americans in 1815 are a recognizable symbol of the war and the history of the town. This symbol anchors the new design.
"We are continually trying to optimize the functionality and the appearance of our fleet," says Amherstburg police chief Tim Berthiaume. "When looking for a new design it was only natural for us to look to our past."
The service motto, "People Just Like You" is displayed on the front fender to emphasize the shared human connection. Too often police officers are viewed as just a uniform and badge, not as human beings with families just like everyone else.
Amherstburg is a small service, with only five patrol vehicles and one supervisor vehicle, so it was important to both be visible in the community while not standing out too much on the highway when doing traffic enforcement. A two-tone blue and white colour scheme was used. This was achieved by ordering blue Dodge Chargers and using white decals on the door panels.
The blue hood, roof and A-pillar appear, from a distance, to be a common dark coloured vehicle. The colour conceals the front push bar. The roof light bar is also low profile to reduce its visibility when not in operation.
The white door panels offer a contrast to the blue, allowing a clean backdrop for the British soldier image. The bold lettering of "POLICE" makes the vehicle unmistakable for anything else.
High visibility is also a consideration. The bold "POLICE" lettering on the door panels, "AMHERSTBURG" and the police crest, "9-1-1" and the Canadian flag logos are all reflective, as are the markings on the rear bumper.
There are high intensity LED red and blue lights in the low profile light bar, front grill, rear window and tail lights, and strobes in the headlights.
Social media connection
In today's connected society, it's important to use patrol vehicles as moving billboards to inform the public to contact/follow a police service on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. 9-1-1 and Crimestoppers are also advertised on the Amherstburg patrol vehicles.
The days of large vehicles such as the Ford Crown Victoria are coming to an end. With interior space becoming more confined, it is important to properly use the space that is available. Patrol vehicle in Amherstburg are also used to transport prisoners so a rear cage is required. Installing a cage into the rear seat reduces the interior space significantly, resulting in less useable space for the officer.
To alleviate this issue, the service has begun using a half-cage. This allows a prisoner to be isolated in a secure area of the rear seat while still allowing a full range of driver's seat adjustment. This also permits duty bags and other items to be secured in the other portion of the rear seat rather than trying to find space in a trunk already full of tools for the job.
Versatility is the biggest advantage to the new supervisor vehicle. Policing a rural area, especially during the winter months, means accessibility can be challenging at times. In the past officers had to use unmarked vehicles to drive through deep snow or off-road areas. Marked vehicles could not drive on this terrain but the new Ford F150 4x4 pick-up truck can. Now officers can easily access rural areas and traverse deep snow while still maintaining a visible police presence in a marked vehicle equipped with full emergency lights.
The bed of the truck allows for easy transportation of seized or found property such as bicycles too large to fit in the trunk of a patrol car. The service previously had to rely on town work trucks to move larger items.
Second Place London Police Service
The city of London was incorporated in January 1855 and the London Police Force was formed one month later. As the city grew to its present population of 360,000, the police grew with it, expanding from an original complement of eight constables to a present staff of 593 sworn officers, 194 civilians and 22 cadets.
The design of marked police cars has changed considerably over the years. By 1992, London police moved from a traditional blue car with white doors to an all white car with a simple blue over red stripe. In the early 2000s, the service updated the design so the two colored stripes intertwined. In 2007, it added its new motto to the front – Facta Non Verba (Deeds, Not Words).
The design did not fit comfortably with the more aerodynamic flow of the 2011 Dodge Charger. The intertwined stripes directly over the wheel wells seemed particularly jarring. The service approached Artcal Graphics of London with the rough sketch of a possible new design and started the process. Ideas flowed back and forth until two similar packages were hammered out and presented to senior management.
With their approval, the current look was born. It has been adapted onto patrol vehicles, SUVs and large special service trucks, establishing a consistent theme for the London Police Service.
The design has elements of a bird of prey, with its "beak" exactly matching the shape of the new Dodge Charger headlights, sweeping backwards into a flow of striping. This gives the entire design a strong sense of directionality, one of the elements that we look for in our Best Dressed Contest. The ability to quickly discern the direction a vehicle is traveling, night or day, is an important element in officer safety. Instead of bumping in to the wheel wells like the old design, the stripes flow around them, giving an almost Italian sports car flow to the lines.
The innovative design uses the latest in 3M reflective technology to effectively mirror the natural contours of the new Dodge Charger.
Top Law Enforcement Prince Edward Island Sheriff Services
The PEI Sheriff Services are responsible for providing a safe environment in and around the province's courts. Duties include court security, inmate and jury management, fine and writ collection and process work.
PEI Sheriff Services also enforce all family maintenance enforcement orders across the island, including serving papers and arrest warrants. It is tasked with seizing property, carrying out evictions and transporting people in custody.
We previously recognized the agency for its innovative design. The new 2015 layout was done in partnership with Auto Trip Design of Summerside PEI. We especially liked the distinctiveness of the "Sheriff" labeling on the previous design, and the newest version continues this with a very effective lettering outline plus a new graduated coloring to the letters. The striping again follows the natural side scoop of the Dodge Charger bodyline. PEI Sheriffs have always had a strong and proud agency identity and we were particularly impressed how a quick glance immediately shows who they are and where they are from.
Top Special Service Vehicle RCMP Mission BC
The Mission BC Detachment of the RCMP is responsible for policing several forest service roads, trails and areas known as the "mudflats." Historically the Mounties used 4x4 police trucks to access these remote areas.
With the advancements in performance and durability of utility terrain vehicles (UTVs), the Mission RCMP chose the all-new law enforcement package offered for the 2015 Can-Am Commander Max XT 1000r.
In keeping with the matte black color scheme, black reflective decals were added along with a discreet emergency lighting package. This "stealth" look also makes the vehicle more attractive when interacting with youth at community events.
The four-seater UTV allows officers to transport Fire/Paramedics and other emergency personnel quickly to remote areas inaccessible by truck or car. The Commander Max was outfitted with a secure electronic release long gun rack, off-road lights, Pro Armor doors, after market bumpers, 5,000 pound winch and police radio with a mobile repeater.
The very unique coloring and striping of the UTV allows it to blend very effectively into its environment when needed, and the integrated Whelen LED light package allows it to stand out when required. Designers even found a spot on a lower rear panel for a small stealth RCMP logo outlining a Musical Ride horse and rider, a nod to a distinctly Canadian agency with a very proud history.
Top Crime Prevention/Community Relations – Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit
Crime prevention vehicles are an important part of public relations. They serve as fun and interesting billboards for police agencies, and there is nothing that warms us more than to see once-expensive cars seized from drug dealers and repurposed into helping the community.
The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia (CFSEU-BC) is the provinces' integrated anti-gang police agency. The hybrid unit has approximately 400 officers and civilian staff from 14 law enforcement agencies. Its mandate is focused on gang and organized crime in BC and it's the second police agency in the province (Abbotsford was the first) to be approved for vehicle grants by the province's civil forfeiture office.
This 2009 BMW X5, seized from a drug dealer by the RCMP and ultimately forfeited, was received in 2014 and has been used for media events, community presentations and as a tool to connect with youth and communities across British Columbia. As an integral part of the agency's End Gang Life gang prevention and education initiative (www.endganglife.ca), the vehicle has been taken to more than 100 events in dozens of communities across the province. It was featured in both the 2014 Vancouver Pride and Surrey Vaisakhi parades which, combined, attracted more than 1,000,000 spectators. It is considered a critical component of ongoing efforts to connect with youth and communities. In early 2015 the vehicle was outfitted with a full complement of emergency equipment, including LED lighting and sirens, making it the first, and only, BMW "police car" in British Columbia. It has also been outfitted with in-grill, under mounted and interior display LED lighting. A solar panel on the roof powers a second battery, allowing the LED lighting to be left running when the vehicle is not.
The overall design exactly appeals to its target audience, with a modern look that is still professional without any hint of "ransom note." It basically reminds viewers that police are still the world's biggest street gang. It's fun to imagine the look on the face of the previous owner when he sees it drive past his jail cell!
Story compiled with files submitted by Dave Brown, Blue Line Staff writer, Morley Lymburner, Blue LIne Group Publisher and Amherstburg Community Services Officer Steve Owen.
Canada's Best Dressed Police Vehicles
Blue Line Magazine has been recognizing creativity, visibility and community identity in the design of Canadian police vehicles since 2005 through our annual Best Dressed contest.
Police vehicles are not just transportation; they are the calling cards of a police service to the community. They must be both highly visible and instantly recognizable.
Graphic designs are ever evolving but one area we focus on every year is officer safety. As police cars get smaller and lightbars more aerodynamic, we especially look for essentials such as clear identification, graphic designs that enhance visibility, design elements that show directionality of travel and effective integration of equipment and controls.
Finalists are selected by a panel of editors at Blue Line Magazine and recognized vehicle enthusiasts. They are judged on a scale that awards points for creativity, visibility, readability, ergonomics, equipment integration and community identity.
We announce the winners each January in conjunction with our police vehicles issue. There are four different best dressed categories: Police vehicle, law enforcement vehicle, crime prevention/community relations vehicle and special service vehicle.
Winners reflect the incredible diversity and resourcefulness of Canadian police and law enforcement agencies and the creativity of civilians and companies who support them.
Dave Brown - Chief Judge - Blue Line Automotive columnist Morley Lymburner - Group Publisher - Blue Line Magazine Cam Woolley - CTV News and Crime Reporter Dave Wilson - Investigator - Ontario Motor Vehicle Industry Council Mark Reesor - Senior Editor - Blue Line Magazine