Florida Highway Patrol sending message with new 'ghost' squad cars

FHP subdued cars

Drivers, here’s your warning: Florida Highway Patrol troopers have a new tool to stop aggressive, speeding, drunk and distracted drivers.  You may not even see them, until it’s too late.  “This is the FHP subdued patrol car,” says Trooper Nicholas Dolan.  The new special squad cars have seemingly “disappearing” decals on the front, sides, and back of the Dodge Chargers.  The reflective lettering can be tough to see, depending on the light at an angle of the car.  “As the vehicle may be traveling by, you may not see it at first glance.  Once the sunlight hits it, or the light hits it, you see “State Trooper” on the side,” says Dolan.  When asked if troopers are trying to be sneaky, Dolan replies, “Absolutely not.  It's for public safety.  With something like this on the road, it's going to keep the public more safe.”  By the time you realize you're caught in the act, like one speeding driver in Brooksville on Wednesday afternoon, Dolan has probably already seen you.  “He said he did not see the car and didn't realize he was going that fast,” says Dolan.  “I'm going to issue you a citation for your speed today,” he tells the driver.  The stealth new ride is based in Brooksville, but will patrol around Tampa Bay.  It's one of five special squads right now in the state.  “In going to a subdued patrol car, we are able to tackle the aggressive drivers on the road, the distracted driving, and texting while driving.  Everything that makes it more dangerous for the public driving on the roadways,” Dolan says.  Some cars are equipped with bullet-resistant door panels and all have front and back cameras and radar.  “I'll let people fly right up on the back of the car following too close, people know that as tailgating.  There's usually a 15- to 20-second delay before they realize, well that might be a police car,” says Dolan.  FHP says not only can the new cars help make the roads safer,  they're actually cheaper.  They cost taxpayers less money than the two-toned paint and large light bar on the roof of the other marked cruisers.  “It's not meant to replace our standard fleet in the highway patrol,” Dolan says.  10News asked FHP why it doesn’t use completely unmarked cars.  FHP says it’s to protect against drivers fearing that they’re being pulled over by a police imposter, and also tougher penalties.  It's a felony to flee a marked police car, and the new subdued car is considered “marked”.  It’s only a misdemeanor if a driver tries to make a getaway from a police car with no decals at all.  Troopers say the new cars are a less-obvious took to crackdown on aggressive drivers.  “Everyone wants to get home safe, that's our primary goal, not to be sneaky but to make sure everyone gets home safely,” says Dolan.  Right now, FHP says there are also new subdued cars around Orlando, Jacksonville, Tallahassee and Pensacola with more to come.

6/7/17

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