Ever wondered what it would be like to buy a police car? Well, our videographer, Ben Johnson, found out for himself. Keep reading to take a look at all the bells and whistles and learn all about what made him buy the decommissioned cop car in the first place.
A *unique* ride
It’s not every day that you pull into the parking lot at work and see your co-worker step out of a police car. I immediately had to do a double take, and as it turns out, my eyes did not deceive me.
Our team immediately had a lot of questions for Ben, like “Do the sirens work?” and “Does this get you out of parking tickets?” and most importantly “How the heck is this legal?” We’ve got all the answers to your burning questions.
First off… why?
“A few years ago, my friends and I were making a short film and we needed a cop car as a prop. So just for kicks and giggles, I Googled ‘Can you buy a used cop car?’ and I was shocked to find that cop cars are a lot cheaper than normal used cars because you can’t finance them, you have to pay in cash.”Ben Johnson, Videographer, Bham Now
Unfortunately, Ben recently got in a car accident and needed a new ride. He discovered that the police cycle out their fleet of vehicles every five years or so, and when they do, the retired cars end up on auction websites. As a result, Ben was able to score a 2015 Dodge Charger for about $6,900 bucks—you can’t beat that.
With surging prices and strong demand, the used car market is a tough one to shop at the moment. Ben considers himself lucky to have found this unique way to buy a car.
“I looked at the retail price for used cars right now, and for a Dodge Charger from the same year, it’s about $17,000 to $20,000. I knew even if I bought it and spent $10,000 refurbishing it, it still wouldn’t reach the market value. The used car market is insane right now, cars that are over 20 years old are selling for over $10,000, so I knew I wouldn’t find a deal this good anywhere else.”Ben Johnson, Videographer, Bham Now
Take a look inside
For those of us who haven’t seen the inside of a cop car, there are a lot of interesting features to check out. Ben’s new ride even has a fully-functional spotlight attached to the front that swivels and turns from the inside.
In order to sell the vehicle, the emergency equipment has to be disconnected—so the siren and the lights can’t turn on. However, the fixture for the lights, the cage in the backseat, the metal plate you mount the computer on and even the printer used to print tickets were all left intact.
To keep things legal, Ben will eventually have to remove all of the police decals and the light fixture on top, but pretty much everything else is going to stay.
He said while the fancy features definitely make the car look cool, it’s a lot less comfortable to drive. For instance, resting your arm on a ticket printer instead of a center console isn’t very pleasant. To abide by the law he plans on repainting it and making the necessary adjustments.
“I plan on having it repainted so it doesn’t look quite as much like a cop car. I entertained the idea of keeping it the way that it was, but I noticed people slow down a lot around me. I pulled up to a wedding that I was filming and everyone was like ‘what the heck.’ I ran by a friend’s house and his wife called them and said the cops are outside. I don’t like freaking people out, so my plan is to get it repainted.”Ben Johnson, Videographer, Bham Now
What are the pros and cons?
“I feel a lot more secure parking literally anywhere. Who’s gonna tow a cop car? It also feels nice not to have to worry about people breaking into my car, because they might think there’s a dashcam or something, so that’s a plus. There’s definitely a peace of mind there.”Ben Johnson, Videographer, Bham Now
Ben mentioned that more often than not, people will move out of his lane when he’s driving down the interstate—definitely a perk I would appreciate. As for the cons? Snagging a cop car needs a bit more maintenance than your average used car.
“This car is a little beat up, it’s from Altoona, Alabama so there’s a lot of mud all over the place. Two of the window switches don’t work very well, to get the window to go up and down. When I got the car, almost every single light on the dash was on, so I need to go get all of that checked out. Even still, it’s not a junker.”Ben Johnson, Videographer, Bham Now
Keeping things legal
Ben is a little fearful that if he gets pulled over, cops will think he’s trying to impersonate them, which will definitely get you a one-way ticket to the back of a real police car. Luckily, he bought the car from state officials, and they said as long as he doesn’t turn on the lights and sirens he should be good to go.
“As long as I’m not actually impersonating a police officer where I’m trying to pull people over, I should be fine. They did tell me to take the lights and the decals off, I just haven’t had the time to do that yet. I plan on doing it very, very soon.”Ben Johnson, Videographer, Bham Now
Would you ever buy a decommissioned police car? Tag us @bhamnow and let us know.