Retired police cars still on the road but officers are not the ones behind the wheel. Our story on the problem last month caught the eye of state lawmakers. Brian Entin has the update in tonight’s 7 Investigates.
Drive around South Florida and you’ll spot them.
Former police cars that still look just like police cars because some departments do not fully remove the markings before the vehicles are sold.
Brian Entin: “Excuse me sir, I’m Brian Entin from 7News. Are you a member of law enforcement?”
Brian Entin: “Why do you have this car with the lights and State of Florida?”
Since our story aired last month, we have seen more of the police car look-alikes.
This black Charger says “Emergency 911 Response” and “to punish and enslave” on the door, and an old Crown Vic says “Emergency 911” along with the phone number for a security company.
State Sen. Annette Taddeo: “Well frankly, I think it’s dangerous.”
State Sen. Annette Taddeo saw our story and is now taking action.
She is filing a bill that requires police departments to fully remove official markings and equipment before selling their old cars.
Owning an old cop car is not illegal but posing as an officer is a crime.
In Florida, over the past five years, there have been 489 arrests for impersonating an officer.
Annette Taddeo: “It’s a loophole in the law that clearly goes against the current law, which says you cannot impersonate a police officer.”
State Rep. Kionne McGhee also saw our story and is teaming up with State Senator Taddeo to get legislation passed.
Rep. Kionne McGhee: “Well, it’s the right thing to do. First of all, our responsibility is to Floridians to not have to be worried while on the highways and byways.”
Right now, state law does not say whose responsibility it is to remove official markings from old police cars. Police departments or their municipalities usually do it, but some cars slip through the cracks.
Armando Perera, Bidera Auctions: “It’s not that they don’t try. They do try, but they do a very poor job.”
Armando Perera owns Bidera Auctions and works with South Florida municipalities selling their retired police cars.
He goes the extra step and removes the markings himself but not all auction companies do that.
Armando Perera: “When I see a car that says police I am wondering, ‘What auction company sold it? What city did it come from? Who allowed it to be out there?’ Because it is a problem.”
State Senator Taddeo and Representative McGhee say their bills to end the problem are long overdue, and they anticipate they will get bipartisan support early next year in Tallahassee.