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Tighter controls needed on police equipment
July 13, 2020 By Morley S. Lymburner
Creating a fake police cruiser is not that difficult when one considers that it is an everyday occurrence in the movie and TV production industry. Having attended many law enforcement trade shows over 28 years of publishing Blue Line, and previously being a movie site inspector with the police, I have seen multiple police car mock-ups used by car manufacturers who wish to promote their brand.
Seldom do we have such a double jeopardy of events as is the case in this Nova Scotia series of crimes; an insidious disease keeping people in their houses and a madman killing loved ones in their homes and cars through a wide swath of multiple locations. This heartbreaking tragedy unfolded over a 12-hour period in Nova Scotia starting during the night of April 18 and into April 19. It is a night that will be seared into the minds of every Canadian.
The sheer audacity of the crimes is shocking and left police in a catch-22 situation. People being shot and multiple houses being burned tied up an enormous amount of police resources while the assailant continued producing more crime scenes as he went from location to location and multiple jurisdictions. Police would have been reeling from the onslaught.
Being stopped by the police is a heart palpitating moment for members of the public. Stopping for the police is a necessity but the idea of being lured to stop and then being killed by the very person you are expected to trust is far too hard to imagine.
Given all the varied police agencies across North America, and their individualistic desire to have their fleet stand apart, it only takes someone with a strong enough desire to replicate their police vehicle of choice. All they need is time and money and a good eye for what they see in their community driving around.
Of course, the job can be made easier if someone has the meticulous touch of a body shop worker and has access to the striping materials. This is only made simpler today with all the images on the Internet.
The next step would be to obtain a vehicle which looks as close as possible to that driven by local police. Many agencies dispose of fleet vehicles to the highest bidder at annual auctions and in many cases the fleet colours are still intact.
Most agencies in Canada have patent and copyright laws that help them enforce their vehicle designs. Most municipal, provincial and federal police have even gone so far as to place a Royal decree (patent) on their departmental crest from the heraldry department of the Governor General of Canada. (www.gg.ca/en/heraldry). This makes the replication or improper use of the image a criminal offence.
Examples of facsimile police vehicles abound. Most notable is the TV and movie industry. In one movie I recall Chrysler Corp. supplied 200 police cars, all dressed to look the part and ready for crashing. The use of their vehicles was considered good promotion so there was no more interest in returning the last of the undamaged cars; they were sold off at bargain basement prices with a promise the new owners would repaint them.
The importance of maintaining the public’s trust in police work is far too important to ignore any confusion that may exist about police vehicles. In Canada there is a habit of paralegal service companies dressing their vehicles so they closely resemble police cars. This should be stopped because in many circumstances there are only slight variations in appearance.
The laws in every jurisdiction must be hardened to ensure police can ferret out those who would create an image that would cause confusion in the mind of the public. The requirement to have motorists pull over is far too important to society.
Morley S. Lymburner is the former publisher of Blue Line. Read his blog at behindthebluelineweb.wordpress.com.
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