Just recently ABC 11, a news outlet that covers the Research Triangle region of North Carolina and some of the surrounding areas, published an article informing the public of “blue light bandits” pulling over cars outside the town of Smithfield and impersonating officers. These individuals attach blue lights to their vehicles, often vehicles known by the public to be operated by police departments—Ford Crown Victorias, Dodge Chargers, Ford Escapes, Chevrolet Tahoes, etc.—and even dress up as police officers in order to rob their victims. Occurrences like this are not confined to just North Carolina. Numerous reports of fake police officers pulling over drivers have been reported in Delaware, Texas, Florida, Missouri, and several other states. What the article did not suggest or discuss, however, is why this is happening and how police departments are actually making the situation worse.
Undercover cop cars are not a new addition to police departments. Most drivers on the road have even grown successful at identifying them and adjusting their speed whenever driving in their proximity. Many of us find ourselves irritated to have a dark colored Charger or Crown Vic pull up behind us, only to have them pass and discover that they were just another fellow driver. The feeling of anxiety that arises when a police officer pulls up behind you or turns on their blue lights (whether you’re doing anything ‘wrong’ or not) is virtually known to anyone who operates a motor vehicle.
Thanks to the Internet and the public’s ability to document and share examples of police brutality and a frequent disregard for the law by police officers, people are beginning to demand law enforcement reform. We should begin with eliminating undercover police cars. If the primary role of police officers is to “serve and protect” and respond to crime, then why do they need to hide from the public? Unless, of course, they are no longer serving the public and their primary function is to collect revenue through traffic violations.
Even if one chooses to make the argument that we need traffic laws for our protection, the ability to enforce these laws is still possible in vehicles marked with police decals. Anyone driving down a major highway, at any time of the day, is likely to pass a white charger with big blue lights and the department name posted on the side of the vehicle. They successfully hide in plain sight in the highway medians and under bridges. It’s clear that the old tactics are still working. The crazed daredevil speeding down the highway at 120 mph isn’t going to be able to identify a marked or unmarked vehicle in time to slow down. It’s the driver who wants to cut down their five-hour drive by a few minutes and chose to go 12 mph over the speed limit who gets pulled over by the undercover cop. Does anyone feel any safer when those people get pulled over? Most of us are just thankful it wasn’t us that got caught going over the limit.
One may also choose to argue that we need the tax dollars collected by police departments to pay for essential government provided services. Do we though? Perhaps this a foreign concept to some (definitely to the US Congress), but we could just reallocate tax dollars already collected instead of wasting them on failed education programs, the war on drugs, the United States Postal Service, and endless military interventions. People already fund enough of the Federal and States’ ridiculous projects through income tax, sales tax, property tax, estate tax, sin tax, gas tax, payroll tax, gasoline tax, capital gains tax, land use tax, and INFLATION tax. We don’t need police officers being diverted from tracking down actual violent criminals just to continue to fund the reckless spending of ‘our’ governments.
Blue light bandits, as many can tell, are taking advantage of the fact that police departments have unmarked or ‘undercover’ vehicles, to harm or plunder communities. It’s not solely that police departments have undercover vehicles that make this possible, but also the primary function of these law enforcement agencies which allows individuals to mimic them. Generally speaking, the only difference between the Blue Light Bandits and the actual police is that one of these groups has a badge and is legally allowed to plunder individuals so long as it serves the state. If police departments only provided the service that they champion, to serve and protect, these bandits would be fooling no one. If police officers didn’t operate in the shadows, as if the United States was home to some live Orwellian dystopian novel, people wouldn’t have anxiety attacks every time they saw a dark colored Charger. One thing is for certain; police departments would actually be reducing crime by getting rid of undercover cop cars, as it would eliminate the possibility for blue light bandits.
By continuing to enforce unjust and unethical laws and operating outside the view of the public, law enforcement agencies are only making robbery easier for real criminals