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  • Thanks to the roughly 400 cop shows currently on television, most of us think we have a

  • pretty good handle on what police work and the daily life of a cop is like.

  • It usually goes like this: one officer with incredibly well done hair and make-up talks

  • about a “perp”, her partner answers with a witty one-liner over a dead body while slowly

  • removing his sunglasses, and then theme music plays.

  • However, there is a lot about police officers we really don't know, starting with the

  • basics: what's actually in a cop car?

  • What do policemen ride with everyday to help them do some incredibly difficult work?

  • We sent our world class teams of researchers, scientists, and engineers to investigate the

  • inner workings of a police car and share our findings with you.

  • You'll be amazed at some of the high-tech gadgets and souped-up rides your friendly

  • neighborhood cop uses almost every day.

  • Imagine you're a police officer.

  • There you are, sitting in the driver's side of your car with your partner next to you.

  • You're parked on duty near a busy main street, talking about your family, and drinking kombucha,

  • because you refuse to be a stereotype like those donut-eating cops.

  • Suddenly a call comes in - but wait, how and where does it come in?

  • We've all seen enoughLaw & Orderepisodes to have a general idea of how this

  • works, but what equipment connects you to both your command center and all the other

  • patrol cars?

  • Well, the communication system installed in a police car is one of the most important

  • parts of the whole system; thebrainof the car.

  • There are special frequency ranges set aside on VHF and UHF bands for exclusive police

  • radio use.

  • When a dispatcher gets a call on 911 about an ongoing emergency, they relay it directly

  • to the appropriate police officers using a two-way radio.

  • This way, you don't have to rely on T-mobile for help...a sure way to die in a life-threatening

  • situation.

  • So as you're sitting in your car slurping up that last kombucha drop - and for our purposes,

  • let's say you're a police officer in California - you get an incoming call from dispatch for

  • a suspected 502 two blocks away from you.

  • In California, a 502 means drunk driving.

  • You start up the engine and speed away to the suspected drunk driver's location.

  • You reach into your equipment console, which holds your radios and light switches, to flip

  • on your siren switch.

  • The siren starts up, warning other cars to get out of the way, and alerting the drunk

  • driver that a police car is on his tail.

  • You might be visualizing an ear-piercing wail right about now, but sirens actually don't

  • emit just one sound.

  • Different sounds are used for different situations.

  • The loud, grating wail most of us associate with police sirens is used when police are

  • fast approaching other vehicles, to warn them to clear the way.

  • In high-traffic situations, you may have heard a shorteryelp”-like sound intended to

  • alert nearby vehicles and make them move.

  • Other sounds a policeman may choose to activate include the warbler, air horn, piercer, and

  • whoop; we swear they are real siren options, even though they sound like a bird watchers'

  • convention.

  • In conjunction with the light bar on top of the car, which flashes - in the US, at least

  • - the classic red and blue lights to warn others a cop car is approaching, the siren

  • emits sounds at approximately 110-120 decibels.

  • In other words, somewhere between a car horn and a chainsaw, enough to be heard over even

  • the sickest Jonas Brothers mix playing in surrounding passenger cars.

  • You're pretty likely to catch up to your target quickly, as police vehicles are outfitted

  • with extremely high-performance engines.

  • Most cop cars these days have turbocharged V6 engines, which allow them to accelerate

  • rapidly while generally maintaining good fuel economy - an important asset in high-speed

  • pursuits.

  • This comes in handy when you spot the suspected drunk driver ahead of you, in a car matching

  • the description given to you.

  • In this case, a BMW 3 series because your suspect is in a mid-life crisis.

  • He is dangerously weaving in and out of lanes and topping 55 mph in a 30 mph zone.

  • You press down on the gas pedal to catch up to him, knowing you can easily overtake him,

  • and that even in a drawn out, fast chase your engine won't overheat.

  • Why won't it?

  • Because while passenger cars only have a standard radiator to cool down an engine, police cars

  • are outfitted with a whole other system.

  • Police engines are often subject to immense stress from chases, long periods of idling

  • alternating with periods of rapid acceleration and high-speed driving, and other factors.

  • So cop cars include not only an extra-strength radiator with a large fan, but also transmission

  • and oil coolers, and often a power steering cooler, to keep different parts of the car

  • in check.

  • At this point, though you are on the drunk driver's tail, he still has not made a motion

  • to pull over, because he's four Long Island Iced Teas deep.

  • This is where your communication center can be converted into a megaphone so you can get

  • your point across.

  • Your radio microphone routes directly to speakers that are usually included in your siren system.

  • You use your radio to yell out that you are the police, and the driver needs to pull over.

  • Suddenly, the driver does just that, veering right and screeching to a halt.

  • Thanks to the special heavy duty brakes on your car, you instantly slow down and pull

  • over on the shoulder of the road right behind him.

  • You walk on over to the car and ask the driver, Brian, for license and registration.

  • Then you run a check on him.

  • Thankfully, you have all the high-tech tools you need for that right at your disposal.

  • You see, instead of an armrest as you would find in most cars, cop cars have a swivel

  • mount that usually holds a computer.

  • This computer has access to almost any information a police officer would need when out in the

  • field.

  • You, the cop in this scenario, can run license and ID checks, see if someone has outstanding

  • warrants, or even digitally record witness statements and process other paperwork from

  • your car's computer.

  • After you run a check on Brian's license and ID, you notice he has an outstanding warrant

  • for failing to appear in court, after stealing $600 worth of products from Sharper Image.

  • You get back out of the car, walk over, and ask him if he's had anything to drink.

  • He slurs back, “just a beer or two”.

  • You then ask him to slowly step out of his vehicle and do a walk and turn field sobriety

  • test, to see if you should add a DUI charge to his growing list of offenses.

  • He proceeds to open the door and immediately fall out of his vehicle, failing miserably

  • in his attempts to stand up straight again.

  • Almost certain now that Brian is indeed drunk, you ask him to submit to a breathalyzer test,

  • as, like most cops, you have a portable breathalyzer with you in your vehicle.

  • After he blows a 0.2, you inform the driver that he is now under arrest for both an outstanding

  • warrant as well as on suspicion of DUI.

  • Now you have to get a drunk and likely belligerent man, who is repeatedly askingdo you know

  • who I am?!”

  • back to the station - how can you do this safely?

  • Well, it's a good thing your cop car is basically a portable cell!

  • Unlike the comfortable back seats most people take a nap on during long road trips, the

  • back seats of a cop car are hard, plastic, and deliberately cramped.

  • The reason for the seat's awkward positioning is to force those in custody to sit very low

  • or in a bent over position, making it harder for them to attack an officer in the front.

  • The seats are made out of hard plastic to make clean-up easier, as people in the backseat

  • of a cop car are unfortunately more likely to expel fluids such as vomit, urine, or blood.

  • You're especially thankful for the plastic seats when you put the drunk driver in the

  • back of your car and he immediately throws up Long Island Iced Teas numbers 3 and 4.

  • As you lock the doors and climb into the front seat, your drunk back seat passenger starts

  • to get aggressive, trying to reach you in the front.

  • What is there to stop him?

  • Cop cars have a combination of bulletproof glass and steel plating installed behind their

  • front seats, in order to protect you and your partner sitting in the front from unruly passengers,

  • like Brian, in the back.

  • A steel mesh cage is usually in the center of this bulletproof divide, in order to allow

  • you to communicate with the person under arrest and ask him to calm down.

  • As you drive away, hoping the inebriated gentleman in the back quiets down soon, you settle deeper

  • into your seat, which comfortably cushions you even with your 10 pound duty belt around

  • your waist.

  • How do you comfortably fit a gun, a flashlight, and a whole lot of other tools hung around

  • your waist in a driver's seat?

  • Good news: your seat is specially designed just for you!

  • You and the many, many other cops out there.

  • Though the design varies slightly from car to car, most front seats in cop cars have

  • a cutout in the lower back so your duty belt and the weapons on it can squeeze in just

  • fine.

  • After all, your gun can cause enough issues without also giving you sciatica after a long

  • day of sitting on it.

  • You ride back to the station, drop off and process Brian, then go back on patrol.

  • As you're driving along, you get an alert on the ALPR system.

  • Wait...what's the ALPR system?

  • Modern police work relies on a lot of high-tech tools.

  • ALPR, otherwise known as Automated License Plate Readers, are high-speed, computer operated

  • camera systems mounted on police vehicles that capture license plates of passing cars.

  • The technology is part of a modern approach to police work to help reduce crime titled

  • DDACTS, otherwise known as Data-Driven Approach to Crime and Traffic Safety.

  • The ALPR cameras mounted on cruisers translate the photos of passing license plates into

  • the plate's digits, which are then processed through the car's laptop.

  • The system flags plates of cars that have been reported stolen, as belonging to fugitives,

  • or used in the commission of a crime.

  • The cameras also have infrared lighting, so they can identify license plates in the dark.

  • Before you left the station, you and your partner did what most officers do: used the

  • station's Wi-Fi hotspot to download the most recent database of fugitive warrants,

  • suspended or revoked driver's licenses, stolen vehicles, criminal databases, and other pertinent

  • bad guyinformation to your car's laptop.

  • ALPR cameras on your car have now flagged the Toyota Prius that passed you, and informed

  • you it was used in the armed robbery of a check cashing location two days ago.

  • You immediately speed up to follow the eco-friendly thief, turning your siren back on.

  • However, the Prius' driver has other plans.

  • He leads you onto the highway in a high-speed pursuit.

  • Even though you are using your speakers and siren, the suspect shows no signs of slowing

  • down or heeding instructions, so you know you're probably going to have to force him

  • to stop.

  • Because you don't want to put bystanders in danger, you try to limit any dangerous

  • maneuvers or accelerations until both you and the suspect's car are in an emptier

  • location.

  • This is when you decide to use your brand new, super high-tech StarChase system for

  • the first time.

  • The StarChase system, retrofitted onto your front grill, costs around $5,000 but highly

  • decreases the need for high-speed, risky pursuits.

  • It fires a two and a half inch projectile GPS trackers to latch onto the vehicle you're

  • pursuing.

  • This allows you and other police officers to track the suspect and corner them in a

  • more secure, empty location, rather than endangering bystanders or executing dangerous maneuvers

  • on a crowded highway.

  • Thanks to the StarChase system, you hold back until other officers have been alerted to

  • the situation and have the highway cleared of traffic.

  • Back-up is on its way, but for now you have your PIT, or push, bumper to help you stop

  • the suspect's car immediately.

  • PIT stands for Pursuit Intervention Technique, more simply known as ramming a car you're

  • chasing to stop it.

  • The push bumper is a bumper attached to the front of a cop car, intended to help execute

  • this special maneuver.

  • First, you line up your front bumper just behind the back tire of the suspect's fleeing

  • vehicle.

  • Then you gently nudge the back of the suspect's car, before turning into it and accelerating

  • to cause the pursued car to spin out to a stop.

  • The Prius spins out, and you turn back to pull up alongside the stopped car.

  • You step out and look over to the suspect's vehicle to see that the driver isn't moving.

  • Luckily, you have first aid equipment in the trunk of your car for exactly this situation.

  • You open up your car's trunk, which in addition to storing your gun locker with a shotgun

  • inside, also has a portable defibrillator, bulletproof vests, and a first aid kit, which

  • you pull out.

  • Your partner is already by the Prius, noting down details about the suspect's car and

  • taking photos.

  • With no one in the police car, you have to keep the power to your communications on and

  • lights running for a while until you deal with this mess.

  • This is why your cop car comes equipped with a run lock ignition.

  • The run lock ignition allows you to keep your car engine running without the key even being

  • in the ignition, so all your electronic systems can remain functional and online while you

  • attend to an accident scene, crime scene, or otherwise deal with witnesses and suspects.

  • As you approach the suspect's vehicle with the first aid kit you realize...the suspect's

  • gone!

  • Also, your partner is a terrible cop.

  • You look back towards your car to see that the suspect snuck over and is now getting

  • into the driver's seat to attempt to steal your car and drive away.

  • Since your engine is still running, this seems like it might be easy for him, but in fact,

  • it's almost impossible to steal a cop car.

  • The run lock ignition, the same one that allows the engine to run without you being in the

  • car, immediately cuts power to the engine when someone touches the car brake or parking

  • brake.

  • As this criminal who seems committed to incredibly poor life choices tries to steal a cop car

  • and drive away in it, he disengages the parking brake and the engine dies as he looks around,

  • clueless.

  • Even if you had left your parking brake off, thanks to run lock ignition, the cop car actually

  • can't be driven away until the keys you're holding are re-inserted.

  • You pull your gun out, aim it at the criminal, and approach him.

  • He doesn't know it, but the fact that he's sitting behind your police car door is actually

  • a major advantage to him.

  • You see, you have one of the rarer police vehicles in the US outfitted with bulletproof

  • doors.

  • The exterior is made of ballistic tile to fragment incoming bullets, and the layer underneath

  • is made up of the same polymer used in Kevlar vests, known as aramid fiber.

  • The doors are so effectively bulletproof that they can stop bullets shot at mid range from

  • an AK-47.

  • However, since this criminal doesn't seem too knowledgeable or bright so far, he steps

  • out of the car scared and you handcuff and arrest him.