I think it's safe to say that we all owe our police officers a huge debt of gratitude. They keep our children safe. They keep our streets secure. They deal with coked-out acid trippers who believe that electronic garage door openers are magic. And now, there's another reason to appreciate our fearless police officers: they've made it incredibly easy to avoid a speeding ticket.
Or at least, they have in my area. That's because some local police departments around here have purchased the latest Dodge Charger, which is – and I am speaking totally hypothetically here – the single greatest thing that has ever happened to those of us who speed down the highway at night.
Now, before we get into the pros and cons of the Charger, a little background on police cars. For years – decades, maybe; I wasn't alive – police cars were black and white, and they featured one revolving red light on the roof. These cars were slow, and unsafe, and low-tech, though they did have the advantage of looking like a hockey goal had just been scored every time they tried to pull someone ever.
After these cars were retired from law enforcement duties, the police got a lot more modern. For example: they started painting the entire vehicle, not just adding a big badge graphic to the driver's door. The Chicago Police Department, for instance, had a long blue stripe down each side of its vehicles, a fact I recently learned after watching that scene in Blues Brothers where approximately 40 Chicago police cars are destroyed, leaving a trail of Big Three car parts that would rival a Detroit-area scrapyard.
Eventually, most police departments adopted the Ford Crown Victoria, which is an excellent, fantastic vehicle that really rivals the Ferrari 458 Italia both in terms of performance and attractiveness. I say this because you cannot insult the Ford Crown Victoria on the Internet and get away with it: Ford Crown Victoria fans will show up at your house, bang on your door, and scream at you for hours until you come outside and agree that the panel gaps aren't actually big enough for you to fit your entire foot through, but maybe just your big toe.
But the Crown Victoria always had one problem: it was fairly anonymous. Oh, sure, us car enthusiasts knew how to spot one. But normal people were often caught off-guard by its anonymous (and by anonymous, let the record reflect that I mean beautiful) styling. You could pass one of these and never even know you were speeding by a police officer until it was too late.
Enter the Dodge Charger.
The Dodge Charger, for those of you who don't know, features fairly docile styling throughout its entire front, back, and sides. It's headlights are pretty hard to identify. Yes, it looks a little more muscular now that they added that weird crease to the front doors in a uniquely Chrysler attempt to convince people that it was a new car. But it's mostly a typical sedan you'd never tell apart from any other typical sedan when you're on the highway. Except for one thing: the taillights.
If you haven't seen the Dodge Charger's taillights, allow me to describe them for you: they're bright red LEDs that alert speeders to police presence like a road-going lighthouse, screaming "Don't come close! This is probably a cop! Though we concede it may also be an airport rental!" And it's not just brightness that sets apart the Charger's taillights from other designs: they're also approximately the same square footage as my college dorm room.
So what happens, when you're speeding down the highway at night, is that you notice, up ahead, parked on the shoulder, what appears to be a bright red disc hovering just above the road, like a small UFO covered in obnoxiously bright Christmas lights. Those who often find themselves going a few miles an hour above the legal speed limit know exactly what happens next: your instincts kick in. Your mind doesn't even have the time to register CHARGER!!! before your feet are on the brakes, getting you back down to a legal speed. Hypothetically speaking, of course.
It's the same situation when you're driving on the highway and you come up behind a Charger that's just cruising along. The taillights alert you to the presence of a Charger so long before you actually come up on it that you can ease into the experience, taking time to read the license plate, and search for dealer badges, and generally attempt to figure out if this is an unmarked police car or a suburban soccer mom whose insurance only covered a $29-per-day rental after she backed her MDX into a tree at Starbucks.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the beauty of the Dodge Charger police car. The cops love it because it's fast, and powerful, and it can easily catch up to anyone doing anything wrong. And we, the drivers, love it because we'll never have to experience any of that for ourselves. Because the moment we see that road-going lighthouse up in the distance, we'll be on our best behavior.
@DougDeMuro is the author of Plays With Cars. He owned an E63 AMG wagon and once tried to evade police at the Tail of the Dragon using a pontoon boat. (It didn't work.) He worked as a manager for Porsche Cars North America before quitting to become a writer, largely because it meant he no longer had to wear pants. Also, he wrote this entire bio himself in the third person.