Police forces around the world drive some pretty boring cars. In North America, you’re most likely to see them in a Ford Taurus - badged as a Police Interceptor - but in the rest of the world, they’re going to be in whatever car is common, small and cheap. But every once in a while, they’ll end up with something more interesting. Like Italy’s Huracáns and Dubai’s Veyron. It might be bigger, it might be smaller. It might have hooves, or it might have nearly 1,000 hp. So we’ve found some of the most interesting cars, trucks, and animals that police forces around the world are using to help keep people safe.
I’m going to start with some of the smallest cars. This pair of baby NYPD cruisers is tiny, but there are probably no cars around better suited for parking enforcement and city driving than a 2017 Smart Fortwo and a Westward Industries Go-4. Surprisingly, the meter maid cart has a bigger engine than the Smart (900cc vs 1.0L) but makes slightly less power. Still, 69 hp in something that tiny could be fun.
Modern specialty cars don’t hold a lock on tiny cruisers. Police in the UK used to use the tiny third-generation Ford Anglia, like this one. Just the thought of having to climb in the back of that is enough to make me keep my speed in check.
But even today, police still use tiny cars. Even tiny classic cars. Check out this Volkswagen Beetle, still used by transit police in Mexico.
Police around the world still use horses. They’re great for community engagement, surprisingly good at controlling riots and large crowds, but did you know that they can sniff out booze? Sarge, from Halifax, NS, can – he knocked a rye bottle out of this guy’s belt on St. Patrick's day.
Horses aren’t the only animals that police are using. They use lots of dogs to sniff out all kinds of things, from drugs to bombs and even cheeseburgers. Since this is the internet, here are some police dog puppies from the UK.
But those aren’t the best ones. Police in Sri Lanka have an elephant. You read that right. A great big elephant. I’m not sure if it’s just for parades, or if they patrol with it, or even if they'll ride around on it when it gets bigger. But I wouldn’t want to find out. It won’t have to knock twice at your door.
Motorcycles are a pretty common police vehicle. Just about everyone with a TV is familiar with the brown pants and high boots of the California Highway Patrol, thanks to CHiPS. But some places, like Chicago, IL, and Washington, DC, use sidecars. Normally used for a second officer or gear, you could probably put a suspect in there if you had to.
A step down from those sidecar-equipped patrol bikes are some electric scooters. Like this BMW-built example used by police in Germany. It’s not as cool or as fast as the big BMW bikes, but it beats the next on our list.
Segway scooters. It’s better than walking your patrol route, but it’s definitely more embarrassing. It’s probably not easy to find officers who want to spend their day on one of these.
Now for some more cars. The German traffic ministry, along with the Association of German Automobile Tuners wanted a car that would showcase how using proper tuners instead of hacking together parts is the better idea. So they put a 6.3L V12 into a 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLS that made 720 hp and hit 365 km/h, making it the fastest police car in the world at the time.
UK police needed something that could keep up with motorcycles and to help promote safe riding. Since there aren’t many cars that stand a chance, they turned to Ariel cars and got what might be the most bike-like car ever made: an Atom 3.5R. It has 350 hp, weighs just 612 kg, and can hit 100 km/h in under three seconds.
Sometimes the goal isn’t to be fast, but to stay hidden. The Tennessee State Police use this Peterbilt, which they got from a seizure, to catch speeders who don’t expect an officer to be in something with 18 wheels and weighing 20 tonnes.
Even if there is snow on the ground, emergencies still happen. That’s why Swiss police have vehicles like this Toyota Land Cruiser with tracks instead of wheels. It can go just about anywhere. And when it stops, you can let out the Saint Bernard with some brandy.
When that snow is gone and the weather gets warmer, it’s time to patrol the lakes, rivers and canals. That’s when you need this Yamaha WaveRunner.
Is there anything that doesn’t look cooler with the Battenburg markings used by police in the UK, Sweden, and a handful of other countries? Paint a wall up like that and it’d look amazing. Check out this tractor in full police livery, used in the West Midlands to help combat rural crime.
Toronto residents might remember this one. It’s one of the creepiest police vehicles in the world. While it’s mostly resigned to being towed through parades once a year, Blinky was a Plymouth Caravelle before getting moving eyes and the ability to talk.
Police all over North America are getting more and more heavily armored vehicles. Even some full-on military vehicles like the Canadian-built Cougar LAV. I’m not sure how often they get used, especially in the small towns across the country that are buying them. They sure do look intimidating though, don't they?
But the biggest of the armored vehicles is also the smallest. The Bozena Riot, from Slovakia, takes a small skid-steer (like a Bobcat) and adds a huge steel wall that can fold out and up to protect over 36 officers in case of a riot. It can drive that wall around too, making it a giant bulldozer for people.
I’ll end with what has to be the biggest and fastest machine used by police anywhere in the world. It weighs 44,000 kg empty, has 45,000 lb of thrust, and can hit safely hit 961 km/h. It's the Boeing 727. One of the four used by the Mexican Federal Police to transport officers or prisoners around the country.