Saturday, July 19, 2008

Cruisin', Police-Style

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I've been communicating by email with one of my readers, one of Federal Way's finest, and I happened to mention how much I disliked the look of our police cruisers. He asked me why and I had a hard time figuring out exactly why. So, I started looking for photos of police cars on Google Images. Turns out that's a good question... there are a lot of designs, especially here locally, that leave a lot to be desired. Of course, after 45 minutes of searching, I came across CopCarDotCom's gallery, so if you're looking for photos of police cars, check that link for a lot more.

I told him that our cruises reminded me of Robocop or that awful Shaq movie - very generic, like press-on letters.

Anyhow, here's what I found, with my thoughts at the end. Most photos, when clicked, will bring up a larger version of the photo.

As always, this is only my opinion and it's all subjective.

Federal Way
Washington Highway Patrol
Oregon State Police

King County
University of Washington
Port Hueneme
Hong Kong
Detroit Lakes
Auburn Hills
Stayton Police
Garden Grove
U.S. Virgin Islands
U.S. Capitol
San Francisco
Mexico City
Buenos Aires (a fiat? looks too small)

Port Angeles
Los Angeles
Dodge Charger Sample
Port of Portland
California Highway Patrol (old style car)
Broward County Sheriff (School)

So, after looking at all these, what do I think makes for a good police car design? (Though probably not all at once.)
  1. Shield (Law Enforcement star, representation of officer's badges or city logo)
  2. Slogan/Mission Statement - reminds us when we see the cars as well as the officers when they get into the car, why you're here. (Do we have one? I don't see it on our website.)
  3. 911 reminder. From children to new residents to the city (or country), you cannot remind people too much. (Unless the call center isn't staffed sufficiently to deal with misuse of the number.)
  4. City/County clearly identified (FW logo and name so tiny on back of car you'll probably miss it)
  5. If striped, stripes convey motion or speed
  6. Timeless typeface that conveys care or authority or power (we're here to protect you, but don't make us put our boot down) (FW's is a typeface called "Liberal" that reminds me of Star Trek... one of those fonts that was supposed to look cool years ago and now looks dated and wishy-washy.)
Bottom line, our cars feel dated and generic. (Except the Dodge Charger.  That just looks awesome.  Saw it again this evening.  Due to its body style they had to make the fat gray stripe jut up at a steep pitch at the back of the car.  That helped, too. Just a really awesome looking car. Unfortunately, fuel economy isn't as good as some other police vehicle options, so we won't see a fleet of these in town.)

I don't know about the officers, but as a citizen, I'd like to see cars that look as good as the image we're trying to portray of our city. (I'm told that the current design is the result of changes over time and that one consideration is being good stewards of tax dollars - the current design is on the inexpensive side when it comes to need to touch-up the paint after the vehicles get scraped up during the course of operations.)

Here are some cruddy looking hacks I did... (click them to enlarge) I am really poor at design work, especially when it comes to trying to "repaint" the car, but it's just some ideas to maybe get someone else thinking creativity. Also have no skill at 3D work.

The first car might have the city name too many times, though I snuck in the "Liberal" typeface used on the current cars just for some continuity.

The striping along the body of the car fans out into the city logo on the back panel.  Reinfoces city "branding" and might imply speed.

The third is the standard LAPD style.  Hard to see it, but it has the city mountains in reflective material on the white door and room for a slogan on the back door.

Anyone else want to give it a go? Email me and I'll send you the blank car file.
(I ironically note that Ford chose to shoot this promotional shot in front of a building that appears to have graffiti.  I also put a small joke into photos.  See if you can spot it.)


tvjames said...

Some images don't appear until clicked on. I'll fix later today. Sorry!


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