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Rules for police-car collectors: State agencies and private owners

Hello all and welcome to this first full installment of our column. There are a few things to discuss after roll call, so grab your seats and let's get started with the briefing without further adieu.

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If you read my article on The Very Basics of Police Car Collecting, you should remember the cautions I presented on some agencies having, well, a less than magnanimous attitude toward private ownership of representations of their vehicles. If you haven't read the article yet, I'd recommend you do so. One of our goals in the coming year is to start developing a database of as many agencies as possible that fall into this category. This info will be available through the EVOOA web site ( as a public service to all collectors. We have no timeline as of yet for this to begin to be posted, though I will inform all of you here when that does occur.

In the meantime, here's some pertinent info on the subject as currently known.

  • The Ohio Highway Patrol has a strict policy banning privately owned vehicles displaying any of their insignia, old or new. This was confirmed last year by one of our members through the OHP admin. They also prohibit duplication of their insignia for any purpose, even for scale models! How about that?
  • The Pennsylvania State Police current insignia (1991 to present) is under strict copyright and unauthorized use of it along with duplication is prohibited under threat of criminal prosecution. Don't ask…you won't get permission to do a 9C1 Caprice or anything else bearing the current insignia. I have written confirmation of this from the PSP legal department when I was looking into my PSP project car a while back. Obsolete insignia are not covered by this ban and are basically fair game. This was also addressed by their legal eagles. They will not directly sanction any replica cars privately owned, so, again, don't bother to ask. They will not look to harass you, though, if you decide to do an older PSP cruiser.
  • The West Virginia State Police is not anxious to have replicas of their cars out there. A friend looked into this through their admin two years ago and was not given a warm feeling about their attitude toward it. The word "No" was used in the end. They have not come out and stated a ban, as such, but be forewarned that they seem to take a dim view and are being less than cooperative. If anyone has had an experience to the contrary, please let me know.
  • The Florida Highway Patrol has an absolute ban on anyone using their paint scheme within the State of Florida. What this means is that if you have a, say, replica of an FHP Mustang SSP, you absolutely cannot operate it within the State of Florida no matter what state the car is registered in. Even trailering one to show inside the Sunshine State could bring the wrath of the FHP upon you. Yes, criminal prosecution is not out of the question. They have no issue with their paint scheme being used in the other 49 states by private owners (probably only because they have no jurisdiction outside of their borders), but it is completely verboten in their state. Any decommissioned FHP cars are at least partially repainted before sale.
  • Which agency is the most popular with copcar enthusiasts? Easy answer…the California Highway Patrol. Now, this famous agency is rethinking the entire idea of private ownership of representations of their cars registered in any state. I don't mean in a good way for us, either. There are forces within the CHP that believe that nobody should own a replica of any CHP car, especially the more modern ones. There is some degree of reorganization within the department currently going on, so this is not a primary consideration for the new commissioner, so don't look for anything to be coming down in the immediate future. He has bigger fish to fry. In the foreseeable future, though…..probably. Stay tuned on this one. In the meantime, if you or someone you know owns a CHP car, please stay under the radar, especially if you are in California with the car even if it is registered out of state. They are VERY sensitive to any car displaying their insignia anywhere being involved in less than good press. And, yes…they have a knack for finding out. They are also scrutinizing CHP replica cars seen operating lawfully on public roads even with door stars and lights covered from view.

If any of you know of any verifiable (must be able to verify through the particular agency in question) info on any agency, state, county, or local, that we can put into our database, please let me know. We'll need lots of help to complete this task. You should agree that this is an important mission, though.

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The following is an editorial comment by the author and does not reflect the opinions of, the EVOOA, or anyone else connected thereof. So, there.

Many collectors and enthusiasts look to eBay to try selling and obtaining items for a restoration. If you have been on the site over the last year or so, you should have noticed a lessening of certain emergency equipment items listed, primarily lights containing red and/or blue lens. The powers-to-be at eBay have developed a policy a while back banning law enforcement items being sold on their site and have shut down numerous auctions listing the same. This is the primary reason that many emergency lights are selling without the colored lens or just with amber.

You will likely say that you still see these items online. This is true. Many items still find their way to completion of the listing. When I had inquired to them a while back about this policy, I found out that they rely largely on individuals notifying them when these listings are seen. They state that they are not able to self police all of the auction listings. So, what this policy with the stated design of not empowering police impersonators by being able to purchase emergency and LE items on their site ends up with is having to rely on a public "rat squad" of sorts to be able to accomplish this to any degree.

What I find interesting is that there is a plethora of LE related items of all kinds all over the site, especially in the "collectables" categories. You cannot buy a red light by their edict, but there are sirens, gun belts, badges and holders, uniform supplies, etc. listed daily. Lights still get listed with regularity. An effective way to discourage impersonators? You tell me.

While I, and our Association abhor impersonators and will do whatever is necessary to help combat this, if you are going to develop a policy for your web site to discourage the same, do it correctly, not halfway. An ineffective "feel good" sales policy is not the answer to stopping impersonators. Personally, I think this policy by eBay is a waste with anyone being able to buy lights with ease through catalog sales such as Galls, various internet sites, even your neighborhood uniform shop or emergency products dealer. Unfortunately, any legislation making it much harder for would-be impersonators to obtain the tools of their trade will make it that much harder for legitimate civilian emergency vehicle restorers to do the same. Our counterparts in Colorado are finding this out now. There are no easy answers for this dilemma.

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With the winter well upon us and our beloved copcars in hibernation in most parts of the country, we look to the spring to bring them back to life once again and as we also start anticipating the new show season. Here's several great events already scheduled for this year.

  • February 26, Atlanta, Georgia - Cops & Rodders Charity Car Show - contact Lt. Dan Wade at 404-209-5250 or [email protected]
  • July 17-20, Elko, Nevada - EVOOA 12th Annual Get Together - see our web site for more info . You do not need to be an Association member to attend.
  • August 1-2, Chicago, Illinois - Chicagoland Emergency Vehicle Show,

As more scheduled shows and info come available, I'll pass them along. Feel free to pass along to me schedules of shows of interest to emergency vehicle collectors in the US and Canada for reprint here.

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That's all for this briefing. Now, hit the streets and be careful out there. Be sure to start sending in those questions, comments, and requests. This column is for YOU and I really would like your input and feedback. Until next time, let's keep saving those copcars!

Other columns

Introduction | The basics of police car collecting | Who are collectors? Why do we collect?

Emergency lighting | Sirens | Where to find retired police cars | Emergency vehicle shows | Investing in police cars

Restorations: Rules and regs for restorers | bodywork | Do-it-yourself mechanical work

Shows: Chicagoland Emergency Vehicles Show | Aquidneck Island Police Car Parade (2008 | 2009)

Also see the EVOOA home page

Police and fleet cars, trucks, and vans

Fleet/Squad Cars
Current Police Cars

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