EVER EVER EVER Motto Divder
Baltimore City Police Vehicles

The First Vehicles in The Baltimore Police Department came beginning in 1909 based on a newspaper article dated 1911 which gave us the following count; Auto Patrol vehicles have been added to the department subsequently as follows: The first vehicle ever came in May 1909, the second in May 1910, the third in June 1910, followed by the fourth in Aug 1910, fifth in July 1911, the sixth, seventh, and eighth all came in November 1911. In addition to these eight auto patrol units, there was a (Prisoner Transport Vehicle)  known as “Black Maria”, a truck, and a machine (auto) each for Marshal Farnan and Deputy Marshal Manning, making a total of 11 automobiles purchased for the entire department from 1909 to 1911.

advert453

There was a news article from August 1907 that stated the Department was to receive a Columbia Electric Automobile when complete the machine was put to use in the Central District as an Ambulance, and Patrol/Paddy Wagon. It was said to have been easy to run, and easily made 16 miles an hour. Unlike the illustrated picture used to show Baltimore’s New Police vehicle, Baltimore’s Wagon would come with windows and curtains. From the article at the start of this page it would apear the vehicle they order in late 1907, didn't make it to Baltimore until early ti mid 1909. (Some things never change.)

 

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2014 Chevy
wtfCourtesy Rick Ojeda
2014 Chevy
1507142 10203102526420211 1771515064276860636 n
Northern District
3 Dec 2014
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Northern District
3 December 2014
12
3 December 2014
14
3 December 2014

17
3 December 2014
20
3 December 2014

 The Department settled on the new design and ordered 60 vehicles, there were only 30 in the country all white, with 30 more our of the country. The department took them, the black vehicles were importated back into the country and came to us; in the future we will only get black, but initally we had to take what was available. I like the blak best, and think this is one of the best looking cars we'e had in a long time.

 2012 BPD Chevy Caprice PPV400i
Courtesy of Jim Derreth
2012 BPD Chevy Caprice PPV
Diecast BPD Hidden Link
2012 BPD Chevy Caprice PPV400ii
20Courtesy of Jim Derreth
2012 BPD Chevy Caprice PPV
2012 BPD Chevy Caprice PPV400
Courtesy of Jim Derreth
2012 BPD Chevy Caprice PPV
Devider

flashl
67shield

 sd-1910-wagon
COURTESY BALTIMORE POLICE DEPARTMENT

 1900s Bike Patrol Unit
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

Bicycle Officers

 COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

  19001stmotorcycle
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1920'S INDIAN MOTOR CYCLE

  1926fordsupervisors
 COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1926 FORD COUPE

SUPERVISOR'S CAR

Car logo 1985 72
Courtesy Gary and Kath Lapchak
Car Logo - 1985

1920s MOTOR

1935chevsound

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1935 CHEVROLET

SOUND CAR DEPT. SAFETY EDUCATION

OFFICER LOUIE MARTINDALE (DRIVER)

OFFICER CLARENCE FORRESTER (STANDING)

8-7-1937bpdcarshotat

OFFICER WILLIAM HACKLEY PHOTOGRAPH

Officer Fred R. Fleischmann and Officer Joseph Hergat

8-7-1937ttyshootingatpolicecar

37 terraplane
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1938 Buick A I D cars

Photo courtesy Sergeant Robert Fisher

1940 AID Car TC-3

1940's Chevrolet A.I.D. Traffic car TC-3

1947-international-wagon
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1947 International Patrol Wagon

Officer Oliver R.Ellis, Traffic Division

April 26, 1947

1940s Tow Truck

1940's BPD Tow Truck

1942 Packard
Photo courtesy Sergeant Robert Fisher

1942 Packard A.I.D. Off. U.B. Huff

1947international-gaither-place

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1947international-wagon
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1948buick

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1946 Chevrolet FleetMaster Town Sedan

UNUSUAL LETTERING AND 2 TONE PAINT SCHEME

1948 Buick as listed on this photo is wrong

1948chevrolet8a

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

Officer Maurice Cochran and Timothy Moran, Southwest District  72

1948
OFFICER WILLIAM HACKLEY
Officer Wilbert Sudmeier(center)

1948 GREY CHEVROLET

LARGE RED LETTERS
POLICE

1949chev

1949 CHEVROLET

OFFICER WILBERT SUDMEIER (DRIVER)

chevrolet

1950s Chev

Photo courtesy Sergeant Robert Fisher

1950evucp12

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1950'S EMERGENCY VEHICLE UNIT (EVU)

TACTICAL UNIT  CP-12

1950 CheV traffic
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1950chevcp10
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1950'S CHEVROLET

PATROL WAGON  CP-10

1951chevrolet-cp1
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1951-Chevrolet
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1950s Chev traffic car

1950's Chevrolet Sedan Accident Investigation car

1950s BPD PATROL WAGON

1950's CRUISING PATROL

55 ford2
SHANNON BAUM PHOTOGRAPH
1955 Ford, man kneeling on left is the owner of Shannon Baum, maker of the decals for the department,
checking out the POLICE decal on the rear of the car.

1956 ford safety partol

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1956 FORD1

1956 FORD

SAFETY PATROL CAR

1955 FORD2

KSCN0012-SM
Sunpaper pic

1955 Ford 2

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

k-9 19569

1955-1956 Ford K-9 cars (above)

1957 Ford Safety Patrol Unit (below)

1957fordsafetypatrol

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

 1957 FORD

SAFETY PATROL CAR
1957 Ford S-2
COURTESY SERGEANT ROBERT FISCHER
1957 Ford RD-15
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1957 FORD RD 23 NEW BLINKING LIGHT
1957 FORD
Showing the side door markings
1957 Ford ND8
1957 CHEV AID UNIT
1957 CHEVROLET  A.I.D.
Accident Investigation Division
1958fordk91
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1958 FORD
K-9 CARS
1958 Ford A.I.D
 COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
 k9aws
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1958 FORD
K9 UNIT
1959 ford dist car
1959 Ford at the scene of an accident
ned1959
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1959-chevrolet-cp
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1959-ford-cp-10
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1959 Ford-A
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1959 Chevrolet CP-8
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
59ford cp10
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
 1950s tow trucks
 COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
 1960jeepn29
 COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
 1960'S JEEP
NORTHERN DISTRICT  N-29
DRUID HILL PARK OR LAKE ROLAND PATROL VEHICLE
1960bus
1960'S BUS
COMMUNITY RELATIONS
OFFICER FRIENDLY
1960s-bus1
1960ford1
1960 Studebaker Lark
Photo courtesy Sergeant Robert Fisher
1960ford-rd-53
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1960 BPD FORD SW
1960 FORD
SAFETY PATROL CAR
1960s Jeep Park Patrol1
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1960ford-test3
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
Above 1960 FORD patrol car, testing a new paint scheme. Black with front doors and roof WHITE, 
Below, 1960 Ford patrol car testing a new paint scheme. Black with both doors and roof WHITE.
Neither design was adopted.
All Black with a White roof was selected.
1960ford-testcar1
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1960ford-testcar2
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1961 ford1

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1961 Ford CP

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

 1962 ford k9 wagon

 COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1962 Ford K-9 wagon
1960s gmc towtruck
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1960s-cp 11

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
Blast from the Past I found a group of old photos of my dad an other EVU members Officer Howard Bud Lindsay his partner Officer Phil Walters on the left and in the middle is Andy Sullivan of the Southern Dist
Courtesy Mark Lindsay
Officer Howard "Bud" Lindsay, his partner Officer Phil Walters on the left and I believe the officer in the middle is Andy Sullivan of the Southern Dist. Andy was the footman around our house back in the 60's
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Courtesy Mark Lindsay
The first CP-11 and CP-12 trucks were donated to the Department from a Baltimore Bread Company. Here one of the trucks: late 60's. At the Fallsway parking lot behind the old HQ Bldg.

BPD Rocker with Radio Patrol Patch

1950 door shield

BPD Officer 1960
1961-ford-2
1961 Ford A.I.D car TC-2
Photo courtesy Sgt. Robert Fisher
1961 Ford A.I.D. unit TC-2

 Accident Investigation Division

1962 Ford NED car 413
Photo courtesy Sgt. Robert Fisher
1962 Ford sedan NED post car #413

1963 Ford

1963 Ford Sedan

1963 Plymouth

1963 Plymouth Traffic Car 

In 1963 the department used both Fords and Plymouths in the fleet. The Plymouths were used for Traffic
1964dodgeford
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1964 FORD BLACK & WHITE PATROL CAR WITH THE McDERMOTT FLASHING LIGHT. 

1964 DODGE TRAFFIC UNIT (AID) ACCIDENT INVESTIGATION DIVISION. WHITE CAR WITH BLACK HOOD AND AA REVOLVING ROOF LIGHT
1964 Ford Custom ND 502 car

1964 Ford ND 502 car

1965ford

1965 ford radar

1965 Ford unmarked Traffic RADAR car
66fordtest521
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1966 Ford, testing a new paint scheme. Northern District Car N-521

The new colors were BLUE & WHITE.
Color scheme was adopted in 1967 with the new fleet of Chevrolets.
Blue body with both doors and the roof WHITE
NOTICE: the District Commander above the door emblem, this was also adopted in 1967 for the Captain of the District
This color scheme was adopted by Police Commissioner Pomerleau, who had come from Florida where this color scheme was used. Also used in Hawaii.
Bottom photo, the adopted version was for the trunk lid to be BLUE.
NOTICE: the small light on the roof behind the becon, RECALL LIGHT.
When the officer was out on Foot Patrol, if he was needed for a call for service, the roof light could be activated from headquarters to notify the officer.

1966ford-testcar
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

67 chev test car

 COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

KSCN0002
Sunpaper photographer William L LaForce

Date 2 Oct 67 - Police Department Baltimore Patrol Cars 1967

cushman

CUSHMAN SCOOTER USED TO PATROL SHOPPING CENTERS AS A MOTORIZED FOOT PATROL

1967-chev

1967chev

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1967 CHEVROLET

ONE OF THE FIRST OF THE BLUE & WHITE COLOR SCHEME

HAS THE OLD BPD LICENSE PLATES
SHOP# 9670
1967 Chevrolet04
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1967 CHEVROLET
jules denito 67 chev
COURTESY JULES DENITO

1967 Chevrolet

Officer Jules Denito Southern District

67-chev-k-9
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1968 international

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1968 International Park Patrol Vehicle

Assigned Northern District

Druid Hill Park & The Baltimore Zoo
68-international-tow-truck
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1968 Tow Trucks-1
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
1968 International Tow Truck 2

COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1968 FORD FALCON

1967 FORD FALCON METER MAID CAR

  68 chev 1200blk marshall

1968 Chevrolet Southern District Unit, parked in the 1200 blk. of Marshall St., north of Osten St. 

"ON FOOT PATROL" flasher light on roof used by the motorized foot officer.
ON FOOT PATROL
Courtesy Officer John Brazil
 1968 Chev 8904
 Photo courtesy Sergeant Robert Fisher
1969-ford
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1969 Ford

1968 Chev 1970 FORD

1968 Chevrolet Biscayne and 1970 Ford Custom

1970ford9509

1970 FORD
SHOP# 9509
NOTE THE CHANGE OVER TO BLUE ROOF LIGHTS
Off-Friendly-Bus
Photo courtesy Bill Manzke
Baltimore City Police Community Relations "Officer Friendly Bus"

 An old used MTA bus given to the BPD and converted into a police vehicle by

 painting it with the new blue and white color scheme as used on the current fleet of vehicles.
Officer Friendly Bus1
Photo courtesy Bill Manzke

1970 Ford

 COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER
9636 sm
Sun Paper Photo  Courtesy of my future Son-in-Law Matt Zembower
In 1971 the Department started adding Shop Numbers to the Roof, or Trunk of radio/patrol cars so that "Fox" could more easily identify officers from the sky. This was for both officer safety, and to more easily combat crime; as while in the air the observer could tell specific units where suspects on the ground were hiding.

1971-Ford-635-NWD-Car

COURTESY OFFICER W.M.HACKLEY

 1971 Ford shop # 9677 635 car Northwest District

1971 Ford1

 COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1971 FORD

1973plymouth-satelittest-car

1973 Plymouth Satelite TEST CARS

Double light bar was never adopted.
73 ply

Officer Friendly bus
Officer Friendly bus2

1970s Pontiac

1974 Plymouth May 1974
BPD NEWSLETTER

Commissioner Donald D. Pomerleau, members of the Command Staff and Officers representing the nine Districts and the Tactical Section were on hand recently when Mayor William Donald Schaefer presented the keys for the new Police Department Vehicles. The 200 new "air conditioned" Plymouths are white with red and blue stripes on the sides

Officer Edward Sherman

BPD NEWSLETTER

****************************************************************************

Officer Succumbs To Exhaust Fumes

September 1975

Funeral services were conducted on Wednesday, September 17, 1975 for Southwestern District Officer Edward S. Sherman who died September 13, 1975 as the result of. a unique and tragic set of circumstances. Officer Sherman, 28, a 5 year veteran of the Baltimore Police Department was found unconscious in his patrol car by two fellow officers who were on routine patrol.

The following excerpts from investigative reports shed light on what caused the officer to succumb to carbon monoxide poisoning: "At about 0718 hours this date, Officer Gary Martin and Officer R. Gooden, working 812 car, responded to the rear of Edgewood Elementary School . . . to try up same. Upon arrival they found 811 car . . . on the rear lot with the motor running and all of the windows rolled up tight. "The car was butted against a chain link fence with a deep undergrowth (of weeds) . . . After attempting to arouse the officer by beating on the windows . . . Officer Martin broke the right front window and pulled Officer Sherman from the vehicle. While on the scene Officer Martin checked Officer Sherman's vital signs and could find none. . . " Extensive tests were made using the same automobile in an effort to ascertain exactly what caused carbon monoxide, in amounts sufficient to cause a fatality, to accumulate in the passenger area. Results of these tests pointed to three factors, which in the opinion of the experts, caused the high carbon monoxide level:

1. The patrol unit was backed to a chain link fence which was covered by a high growth of weeds.

2. The engine of the vehicle was left running" for an extended period of time. All of the windows were closed. The heater was not in use.

3. A small strip of rubber molding (weather stripping) underneath the trunk door near the locking mechanism was missing. (See photograph below.)

Subsequent tests made on 1973, 1974 and 1975 model marked patrol units indicated that the absence of any of the above listed circumstances would not have caused fatal levels of carbon monoxide to accumulate in the passenger section of these vehicles.

Commanding officers subsequently caused an inspection of all vehicles in all districts and divisions in order to determine if the rubber molding was intact and that the rubber grommets (where appropriate) on the trunk floor were in place. On going checks will continue. The rubber molding or rubber grommets can be repaired or replaced quickly in any defective Departmental vehicles.

In order to prevent similar tragedies in the future all motor vehicle operators are to make certain that the rear of the vehicle is clear of any obstruction when it is to be parked with the engine running. Additionally windows should be opened as far as comfort permits whenever heaters are in use.

 TRUNK

 BPD NEWSLETTER

 1970s Scout K9

Photo courtesy Officer Mike Caplan

 1970's Scout K9 unit
 
BPD ford red blue stripes 1975
PHOTO COURTESY OFFICER MICHAEL CAPLAN
1974chevroletmalibu

1974 Chevrolet Malibu
Baltimore Police experimented buying former
Rent-A-Cars,as a cost saving method, that proved unreliable.
1980s BPD Malibu
Photo courtesy Bill Manzke
1974 Chevrolet Malibu
1974 Plymouth Satelite101
Photo courtesy Officer Mike Caplan
1974 Plymouth Satelite100
Photo courtesy Officer Mike Caplan

BPD cars new old style 1975E

PHOTO COURTESY OFFICER MIKE CAPLAN

In 1975 the new white color and striping scheme were phasing out the old blue & white unit

1970s Volvo

Photo courtesy Officer Mike Caplan

1970's VOLVO on patrol on Belair Rd., Northeast District

VOLVO

BALTIMORE POLICE NEWSLETTER

Representatives of the Volvo Corporation of America recently loaned the Department on a trial basis a 1974 Volvo. The air conditioned four cylinder marked unit is being compared in a performance study with a 1974 Plymouth. The study is designed to determine the feasibility of utilizing a smaller vehicle in patrol. It is currently deployed on a high mileage post in the Northeastern District for 30 days and then will be switched to the Central District for a comparable time span on a post with low mileage and heavy traffic.

1975-aspen

1975 Dodge Aspen
Former Rent-A-Car

1975ford-maverick

1975 Ford Maverick
Former Rent Rent-A-Car
Northwest District Parking Lot
1978ford
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

1978 FORD LTD 
SHOP# 9153
Marion Wiczulis 1982 1
Courtesy Joe Wiczulis
In 1982 Officer Marion Wiczulis, Traffic Enforcement, in an unmarked cruiser
Marion Wiczulis 1982 2
Courtesy Joe Wiczulis
Marion Wiczulis 1982 3
Courtesy Joe Wiczulis

This Traffic car was the only one in the fleet to have white wall tires and red lights,
which were specially approved by Colonel Dick Francis.

Marion Wiczulis 1982 4

Courtesy Joe Wiczulis

 

City Fair 1979

Officers at the City Fair 1979
 

3330-08 police
 
 

bpd motorcycle donated us park police

OFFICER W.M. HACKLEY PHOTO

1978 Harley Davidson Motorcycle restored by John Bayer,motorcycle mechanic U.S.Park Police.

October 1, 1990.
Motorcycle donated by the BPD to the United States Park Police Service for display in their lobby.
1978-harley
OFFICER W.M. HACKLEY PHOTO

1980amc concord

1980's AMC Concord
Proved totally unreliable for Police Work

1980amc

AMC CONCORD

1975olds-omega

1980-1984 Oldsmobile Omega
Former Rent-A-Car
Officer Tom Leddon, NWD

bpd90-vi
 
 

 1985chev
COURTESY SGT. ROBERT FISCHER

The Department has recently received 150 new vehicles that will bear the new "Baltimore Police" logo. They are 1985 Chevrolet Impalas equipped with V-6 engines, power steering, power brakes and electronic fuel injection. Other equipment includes automatic transmission and heavy duty seats with extra padding. The new units are being placed in service throughout the Patrol Division, Tactical Section, Traffic Division and Crime Resistance Unit. Thirty new unmarked vehicles of various makes and models have also been added to the Department's fleet.

 85chev-don-healey

1985 Chevrolet, Don Healy,retired as a Major.

 baltimoredoor

 BALTIMORE POLICE DOOR SHIELDS

bpd cushman

 

 

baltimorepd-072906

 1990corvette

 1990'S CORVETTE

CONFISCATED FROM A DRUG DEALER

 2000winnebago

 1990'S MOBILE COMMAND CENTER
DSC 0148 72
2014
DSC 0149 72
2014
DSC 0140 72
Jan 2014
DSC 0189 72
Jan 2014
DSC 0191  72
Jan 2014
DSC 0428 72
Jan 2014

 1990taurus

 1992 FORD TAURUS

VEHICLE WAS PAINTED A BABY BLUE COLOR TO GET AWAY FROM WHAT COMMISSIONER EDWARDS WOODS SAID WAS AN AGGRESSIVE WHITE. BLUE SCRIPT LETTERING AND NO DOOR SHIELD

 light blue Ford Taurus

1992 Ford Taurus in the new "Baby Blue" "Powder Blue" color scheme that was begun by Commissioner Edward Woods. At the press conference he stated that "They are the prettiest Police Cars I have ever seen" later on he said " I just wanted to get away from the aggressive WHITE cars".

 1993Taurus

 1992 Taurus

 1995 Chev

 1995 Chevrolet

 1997 Ford

1997 Ford Crown Vic Police Interceptor

 BPD 1997 Ford Crown Vic 1E

PHOTO COURTESY OFFICER MIKE CAPLAN

BPD 1997 Ford Crown Vic 2

 PHOTO COURTESY OFFICER MIKE CAPLAN

2000 Suzuki

 2000 Suzuki dirt bike

 vicgrey

2000 FORD CROWN VIC POLICE INTERCEPTOR

CONVERTED FROM THE DEFUNCT HOUSING AUTHORITY POLICE DEPT.

 balt122

 

balt116

 

 

2000chevmounted

 Mounted Unit Pickup & trailer

 park on vehicle

 harborpatrol

 2006 MINITURE ELECTRIC CAR

HARBOR PATROL VEHICLE

 Electric-car

This picture and below article was found on the internet by a visitor to our fair city.

One of the funniest things I saw in Baltimore was this little electric police car. Not for what it was, which is funny all by itself, but for what the Officer did with it. Now, I know plenty of big macho cops that would probably be mortified to drive this thing. I thought it was adorable. They drive these up and down the harbor pier, along sidewalks and seen here in the plaza square. Pretty easy way to get around. I saw this little thing on the street and wanted to get a photo. I had my camera out and was walking towards it when all the sudden the distracted Officer ran right into a flag pole. PING went the pole!!! What was he thinking? There were 6 huge flag poles on the corner. You can see the size of them in the photo. Did he forget they were there??? Hahahahaaaaa! Everybody who was nearby turned and looked. It took the cop a few minutes to get out and look. I don't think he wanted anyone to see him. There was a nice dent in the huge flagpole and a little scrape on the front of his little car. OMG...how embarassing! I'm still laughing.

traffic cars

FLASHING-LIGHTS-DARK2

baltimore ford

motorcycles

parade

2004command

2006 MOBILE COMMAND CENTER

2000ford

2000 FORD CROWN VIC POLICE INTERCEPTOR (P-71)

2002chevblazer

2002 CHEVROLET BLAZER

2000mustang

2000 FORD MUSTANG
TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT UNIT

BPD car B-W

2006chevyimpala2

2006 Chevrolet Impala Patrol Car

baltimore chev

Honor Guard 2

2006 emergency services 1

2006 EMERGENCY SERVICES UNIT# 7811

2006 emergency services 2

bpd tac vehicle

2009 Jeep lights on

2009 Jeep

414home

414 patch

Box 414 Association, a voluntary service that furnishes hot coffee, sandwiches, at large fire scenes, or any other incident that requires Police and Fire/EMS personnel on the scene for extended periods of time.

They have served a very long time in the City of Baltimore providing much needed relief to Police, and Fire personnel they deserve a lot of credit and warm wishes from those they have served so well. Thanks guys for a job very well done.

BALTIMORE Ohio Police
Baltimore, Ohio Police vehicle

City police shifting from white to black patrol cars

10730094 10202936326120392 6079935337652739902 n

The 2014 Chevy - Baltimore City police car
(Courtesy of the Baltimore Police, Baltimore Sun)

By Justin George, The Baltimore Sun This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
contact the reporter Television

Do you think Baltimore City police cars should be black or white?

Pretty soon, the city's white police cars will be a thing of the past.

The white Baltimore police patrol car — a familiar presence on city streets for decades — is slowly being phased out and replaced in a new color: black.

Over the next few months, residents can expect black-marked 2014 Chevy Caprice patrol cars cruising the streets of Baltimore. The change was requested by officers who wanted to appear more professional in updated cars.

The new cars are adorned with a blue streak that runs at an angle on both sides of the car along with a police shield and "Baltimore Police" in white lettering. Police FoxTrot helicopters and many mobile command trucks have had a similar design for more than a decade.

"It's one that we're proud of, and it's one that we think the people of Baltimore are really going to like," police spokesman Lt. Eric Kowalczyk said.

It's not the first time the department has embarked on a new color scheme. The city's police cars were black after World War II when the color was the only shade available. Since then, the cars have been black and white, and then blue and white. In the 1990s, the department planned to shift to baby blue to present a "friendlier image," but the plan was shelved two years and $2 million later.

Former Police Commissioner Edward T. Norris said he wanted to switch to black because he felt the white cars were too closely linked to, of all things, a 1970s television comedy. He also thought sleek black cars would give officers a sense of pride. The change was announced but never occurred.

The current switch is also being driven by the department's desire to boost officers' flagging morale. Less than 10 percent of Baltimore officers described morale as "good" in a department survey last year.

Commanders believe that raises approved last year, a more favorable work schedule and the new patrol cars will help change that. The cruisers also feature seats that adjust more easily, and light and siren switches in more accessible locations.

The new black cars will be added to the current fleet as older vehicles are replaced, Kowalczyk said. The changeover won't cost additional money, officials said.

The department bought 30 black cars this year, and they are currently being outfitted for patrol.

Baltimore police union president Gene Ryan believes the cruisers are a big improvement. A committee of officers of various ranks picked the design, color scheme, lettering and marking, police said.

"If you let somebody have ownership, it always boosts morale," Ryan said. "That car is their office."

It's an iconic shift for the city.

Millions of television viewers recognize Baltimore's white fleet of Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptors, Chevy Impalas and Caprices thanks to the police television drama "The Wire."

Before that, Kowalczyk noted, the 1990s TV show "Homicide: Life on the Streets," also based in Baltimore, featured different white cars from that era.

"Every design has been iconic in its own right, whether it's been seen on television shows or in the common understanding of the people of Baltimore," said Kowalczyk.

The Police Department has briefed some community groups on the change. Many have embraced it, especially if it helps officers do a better job. The city has significant problems to confront, they said, including more than 190 homicides this year.

"Times are changing. ... You're reaching into the millennial generation, and they're into a more modern and sleek look," said Joyce Green, president of the Central District Police Community Relations Council. "I want something that the officers like that they designed, and they can take pride in. And that should boost anyone's morale."

Black police cars are common in Maryland. Bel Air police are still changing over their fleet since making the shift to black in 2012 after 25 years of white cars with green lettering. Howard County police and Maryland State Police also have black vehicles. Maryland Transportation Authority police switched to black in 1988.

"The primary justification was to achieve a new distinctive look, as the agency was in transition at the time," MdTA police spokesman Sgt. Jonathan Green said.

Police cars painted primarily white or a combination of white and black have been historically associated with policing. Some research shows those schemes are the easiest to distinguish as related to law enforcement.

Researchers have also studied whether white or black-and-white cars serve as better crime deterrents than other cars in other colors, and have come to differing conclusions.

Times are changing. ... You're reaching into the millennial generation, and they're into a more modern and sleek look. - Joyce Green, president of the Central District Police Community Relations Council

A 2009 Federal Emergency Management Agency study on the visibility and conspicuousness of emergency vehicles found that "no single particular color" appeared to be the optimal choice for emergency vehicles to be seen under varying conditions.

Mark D. Thomas, professor of cognitive science at Albany State University, researched whether color made any difference as to how fast the mind recognizes a police car.

Black-and-white cars, he said, are the most recognizable police cruisers because the color pattern has been most widely used by agencies. That combination, he said, also sticks out more than other shades.

But he also found the amount of time it takes the mind to recognize black-and-white cars versus all-white cars as police vehicles is less than half a second. The amount of time it takes the mind to recognize a black car as a police vehicle is also probably negligible, he said.

He said many police agencies use either white or a combination with white as the primary color because they believe it better represents "community policing," where officers aim to be visible and easily accessible. State police agencies, whose officers roam highways, often use dark colors, he said, because troopers want to sneak up on speeding motorists.

"If [police[ want something more stealthy, black is more stealthy than white," Thomas said. "But if they want something that will be seen more, especially at night, then they want white."

Baltimore police said they don't believe they'll lose any visibility with the new design.

"I don't think there's going to be anyone mistaking them," Kowalczyk said.

Past efforts to change patrol car colors have backfired. The department dumped the baby-blue scheme partly because many officers and residents felt the cars made police look soft.

In 2001, the department began making the change to black when then-Mayor Martin O'Malley learned of the plan, according to Norris, who was commissioner at the time.

Norris said O'Malley, now governor, demanded the commissioner stop the changeover because he felt black would project an image of a force that was overbearing and intimidating.

O'Malley could not be reached for comment Friday.

"So I painted everything else those colors," Norris said. "The command vehicles, the helicopter, everything else."

Norris said he also ordered other changes to boost morale to make up for the pay raises he couldn't give officers. He swapped out 9 mm service weapons for more powerful .40-caliber guns and lifted a ban on the use of espantoons — the wooden nightsticks that Baltimore officers had used for generations.

"You can't pay them what they deserve, but you can give them things that will help them in their jobs," he said.

The white cars especially rankled Norris when a research firm showed him that the lettering on the side of the cars matched the font used on the credits of the "Mary Tyler Moore Show."

Black police cars, he said, would have projected a tougher image.

"I just thought it commanded more respect," Norris said.

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Copies of: Your Baltimore Police Department Class Photo, Pictures of our Officers, Vehicles, Equipment, Newspaper Articles relating to our department and or officers, Old Departmental Newsletters, Lookouts, Wanted Posters, and or Brochures. Information on Deceased Officers and anything that may help Preserve the History and Proud Traditions of this agency. Please contact Retired Detective Kenny Driscoll. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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How to Dispose of Old Police Items

If you come into possession of Police items from an Estate or Death of a Police Officer Family Member and do not know how to properly dispose of these items please contact: Retired Detective Ken Driscoll - Please dispose of POLICE Items: Badges, Guns, Uniforms, Documents, PROPERLY so they won’t be used IMPROPERLY. Contact Det. Ret. Kenny Driscoll with pictures of you, or your family members and wish them remembered here on this tribute site to honor the fine men and women who have served with Honor and Distinction at the Baltimore Police Department.
Mail pics to 8138 Dundalk Ave. Baltimore Md. 21222

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#1 patty 2015-05-16 06:00
If you have pictures, Comments, Suggestions etc. please send them to me at the email address above, as you can see Ken and I have put much of our time and money into this project, so we don't mind errors pointed out to us, just as Ken's partner used to say, "Keep it Friendly!" send Ken or me and email.. thanks - Patty
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