Be careful of the image your chase vehicle presents

Feb 4, 2020
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Cheyenne
Once thing we teach at the academy is situational awareness. Know where you are and what/who is around and routes of escape.

What we cannot teach is common sense.

So when I see the wacker vehicles here and on the road, sometimes you have to wonder what kind of police/fire/EMS/Twister/AAA fantasy and image they are trying to project.

On the emergency services side, in states that allow POV responses (and for that matter those that don’t) we have our share of “over the top” vehicles and we try to internally limit that.

With the Internet/Galls and then eBay of the late 90’s, equipment became more freely available so those who prob shouldn’t have it now have easier access to it.

That being said, we are seeing more unstable people with it and it’s legitimacy of seeing certain vehicles and people is rapidly declining. Remember all the roadside fake cop rapes of the 90’s and early 2000’s? There you go.

There is a new trend we are seeing with all these AAA/Roadside assistance wannbe’s. Kids and adults are lightning up their vehicles with lights and stopping along the roadways to play AAA for disabled vehicles. You can see risk there already.

Even amber lights, behind a clear or colored lens - still projects an image to the general public (for good or for bad intent).

Now, those who want to deck their vehicles out and want to look copish so that people are intimidated to move out of their way - also know that as stated previously - the bad guys who are emboldened today will not be looking at your license plates - stickers or the 99 ham radio saves lives stickers.

they see a crown Vic or other fleet vehicle looking car and will damage and challenge you.

My ride ispersonally owned and used in public safety. I have non-government plates that reflects the fire serivce. Outside of that, it easily looks like a LE low profile vehicle.

When I’m out chasing, I look at where itmay be ending, check the area of town and make apporiate descisions on lodging fuel and food.

Also with credentials I do carry and have appropriate locking devices and/or items removed from the vehicle.

The choice is yours - practice common sense and don’t look and act like a tool - know where you are.

Still waiting for someone to legitly tell me that the 35 traffic arrows on the rear of their Honda Civic made the tornado move around them when the tornado saw the arrow pointing left...
 
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May 25, 2014
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No hard feelings, really, but the PJH schtick got old by 2008, 2009 or so. The dead horse has been getting beaten for at least a decade.

If someone has the proper credentials, who cares what they drive, or how it's outfitted? So, they have more warning lights than someone would like? Meh.

If they don't, let the law sort it out.

And let the rule of the jungle sort it out. If someone isn't smart enough to have situational awareness, I've never understood how that's anyone's business other than the people who lack it themselves.

I just don't see having the energy to care so much, for so long.
 
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Mark Blue

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Feb 19, 2007
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That’s the beauty of living in a free country. Everyone is different and to each their own. I choose to go low-profile but others might not and that’s fine with me. Those who have been mistaken for LEOs have another feather in their cap that makes for good conversation IMHO. I just go my own way and hope to see others I might know in the field for a chance meeting. It actually unnerves local communities to see ‘chasers’ show up on severe weather days. We’re part of an unmistakable outfit so people are naturally interested in what we do, why we’re there, their near-term personal safety, and are fascinated by our vehicles, equipment, and gear.
 

Randy Jennings

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May 18, 2013
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One very well know chaser drove a surplus police car for a few years (he drove something else in 2020 when I say him), and he told me that he did that "so fewer people messed with him". I didn't get to inquire about what he meant. Although in 2020, I have to wonder if being in a surplus police car might cause more people to mess with you. It might depend on where you are at.
 
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Jeff Duda

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I chase incognito. Chances are you have passed by me on a chase before and had no idea who it was, especially pre-2017.

After my baseball-hail-smashing chase near Ada, OK in March 2017, my vehicle may be slightly more recognizable as a chaser vehicle given the extensive hail dents, but still...I don't use markings, and for the very reasons many others have stated. Also, I don't use CB radios or anything like that. I do not see my duty out there to be first response or reporting (nowadays, I never chase an event that doesn't have dozens of others also on it who are more eager to send reports). Should I ever find myself on a chase in which I felt like I was one of the only ones around, I would certainly make an effort to report what I see. However, I have felt those days are long gone, and hence it has eased any pressure on me. I prefer to just enjoy the sky without dealing with crowds or enthusiasts. That said, I certainly am willing to converse with others who are stopped nearby.

late_April_2016_073-1.jpg
 

Warren Faidley

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May 7, 2006
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I will likely get away from the "black" vehicle theme and change things up for my next vehicle. I'd love to go hybrid, but nothing right now (mid-size SUV) has the off-road requirements to get the job done (tornado, lightning and hurricane chasing environments with 250+ hp). The 2021 Rav-4 Prime would be great, but it's not an off-road vehicle. I'm looking at the Ford Bronco Sport in Cyber Orange for 2021 if I can come up with the money. I have a big casino heist coming up next week in Vegas with 10 other chasers.

bs.jpg
 
May 25, 2014
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Thats levels of cash previously thought impossible.

Might still be, depending on availability and dealer markup.
 
May 25, 2014
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I don't believe so, Jack. It was cautionary, regarding people's attitudes toward law enforcement, and peoples seeming inability to tell what is and isn't a police vehicle anymore.

Then someone who has been railing about police lookalikes on the internet since before you were born chimed in. This wasn't you.
 
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Drew Terril

Staff member
@Jack R. Jester,

Warren started the thread based on his experience driving a black SUV and being assumed to be a cop, despite it not being a make of vehicle that is purchased by government agencies. In the current environment, that could be an issue, and he wanted people to be aware.

I chased in an old beat up Suburban myself for many years, albeit unmarked, so I don't believe anything in this thread was directed towards you.
 
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Apr 17, 2006
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Well right now I am driving a Ford Raptor it is loads of fun but short on mpg. Ford is coming out with a hybrid F150 for 2021 that will get 700 plus miles per tank averaging 24 mph and a 4x4. This is available in trims from XLT on up. I would like 700 plus for a tankful. It will put out like 450 hp with the twin turbo Eco boost and electric drive. So Warren if you want off road with great mpg this may be for you.
 

Drew Terril

Staff member
Well right now I am driving a Ford Raptor it is loads of fun but short on mpg. Ford is coming out with a hybrid F150 for 2021 that will get 700 plus miles per tank averaging 24 mph and a 4x4. This is available in trims from XLT on up. I would like 700 plus for a tankful. It will put out like 450 hp with the twin turbo Eco boost and electric drive. So Warren if you want off road with great mpg this may be for you.
When I was Active Duty, the BN motor pool at Fort Knox had a hybrid Silverado assigned to it, and I believe GM has continued to make hybrid versions of that and the Tahoe for some time now. It was interesting to drive, then some E2 slid it across some ice and smacked a fire hydrant. I did consider buying one for myself but the price tag, then and now, tends to dissuade me. I will admit as well that I've been somewhat disillusioned with the downtick in reliability from Big 3 makes over the past few decades. It seems they either have reliable motors or reliable transmissions but not both, and usually some other gremlin (electrical comes to mind with Chrysler and now FCA vehicles) associated with it. The trick with Hybrids though to be aware of, aside from the cost up front, is at the 7-10 year mark when batteries need replaced. Particularly when Ford does not have everything ironed out with hybrid systems the way Toyota does (probably the only make whose hybrid I would buy right now). Just some food for thought on that idea.

Also, to the subject at hand, that puts Warren right back into the category of being in something that's typically bought as a fleet vehicle. There are a lot of F-150s floating around various (particularly rural) police and fire agencies, and likely will be for the foreseeable future.
 

J West

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Jun 7, 2005
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I've always used black vehicles for storm chasing. Mostly black Nissan Xterras.
Your original Ford Explorer was still the best though...that was a well-equipped machine for the time.

That notwithstanding, it's funny how people see blacked out trucks and immediately think Feds when the reality is most often the exact opposite. They drive all sorts of things and 90%+ don't have any noticable antennas or lights. Sure, the USSS runs a fleet for dignitary use and there are some other agencies with trucks that fill the stereotype but you should really start to pay attention when the same minivan is parked outside your house for a few days.
 
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Jeff Duda

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That notwithstanding, it's funny how people see blacked out trucks and immediately think Feds when the reality is most often the exact opposite. They drive all sorts of things and 90%+ don't have any noticable antennas or lights. Sure, the USSS runs a fleet for dignitary use and there are some other agencies with trucks that fill the stereotype but you should really start to pay attention when the same minivan is parked outside your house for a few days.
Another dead giveaway is the "US GOVERNMENT" text on the license plate. If you have seen those before, you know what they look like. And they're fairly distinguishable at close range.
 

Randy Jennings

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May 18, 2013
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Another dead giveaway is the "US GOVERNMENT" text on the license plate.
In Texas, the state version of that is "Texas Exempt". For years you could tell unmarked LE by the "Texas Exempt" plates and the lack of hub caps/nice wheels, but in recent years I am seeing more unmarked Texas LE with regular plates (still most don't usually have hub caps/nice wheels). But to bring it back to the topic at hand - I don't think that the average person is very observant and I'm not sure that things like a Skywarn or Stormchaser magnet will cause them to not think you are LE. People see something and jump to a conclusion without looking at the big picture.
 
May 10, 2007
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North Little Rock, AR
Another dead giveaway is the "US GOVERNMENT" text on the license plate. If you have seen those before, you know what they look like. And they're fairly distinguishable at close range.
I think I should point out that U.S. Government agencies can acquire regular state license plates (known as "alias plates") for U.S.-owned vehicles. It's my understanding that this is most common in the western U.S. where there are more people/groups that oppose federal government policies. Thus, use of alias plates are not confined to law enforcement vehicles.

On a similar subject, years ago I knew of a detective in Texas that got Louisiana plates for his city-owned car every year. Apparently, Texas and Louisiana had an agreement to trade a certain number of plates every year for such purposes.
 
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