Jeeps used in law enforcement are not as common as the number of Police Service Jeep Toys might suggest. Most police departments are more concerned with having vehicles that are comfortable, and capable of chasing a fugitive at speed on streets and highways, than with dependability in varied weather and topography. But there have been some interesting examples. See also Police Service Cherokees.
Military Police have of course often used Jeeps. This example was seen in a history of the Australian Military Police Corps, whose motto through the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and other UN and peacekeeping operations has been, "For the Troops and With the Troops." This Willys MB was part of the the post-WW II BCOF (British Commonwealth Occupation Forces) in Japan.
This photo of several Jeeps in service in 1946 is from the Lincoln, Nebraska Police Department whose website has stated they were "used mostly by motorcycle officers during inclement weather" and listed the cost to the department as $2250, although that seems high for the 1940's. And these Jeeps appear to be surplus wartime MB's, which would have been available very cheaply to local government agencies, although this was more common in Europe than in North America. It would be interesting to hear the whole story of these units.
The Willys MC replaced the MB as the U.S. military Jeep in 1950. Designated M38 by the Army, it was a slightly beefier version of the civilian CJ-3A. This undated, unidentified photo shows a couple of the new Jeeps with an MP unit. Can anybody identify the unit or location?
MP service was one of the non-combat roles sometimes delegated to less-expensive civilian Jeep models such as the CJ-3B. See a U.S. Army MP Jeep in 1965, and an imaginative 1954 "Military Police" Restoration.
There were other civilian police departments that quickly saw the utility of the Jeep for routine patrols in varied weather conditions: a 1948 newsletter called Jeepers News Review (70K JPEG) from the Willys dealer in Vancouver BC, includes a small news item headed Toronto Police in Jeep Capture Bandit (100K JPEG).
Willys also saw overseas police departments, particularly those receiving American government aid, as a profitable export vehicle market.
A photo from their booklet Jeep family of 4-Wheel-Drive Vehicles in Public Service shows a parade of police officers and their vehicles, which appear to be CJ-2As. Parts dealer La Casa Del Jeep in Puerto Rico recognizes the building in the background as the capitol building in San Juan, and guesses the photo dates from the late 1940's.
The same booklet includes a 1940's Willys panel delivery model set up for use as a paddy wagon (40K JPEG) by the police in Guam, the U.S. territory in the Pacific which had been occupied by Japan during WW II, and a CJ-5 with siren (100K JPEG) with a uniformed driver in an unidentified country.
What if you were taking the family for a spin in your CJ-3B, and you got pulled over by a cop in a... CJ-3B?!
The traffic stop in the photo apparently took place, or was staged, in the 1960s in Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa. The French Gendarmerie Nationale (National Police) were responsible for colonial law enforcement, and many of their Jeeps were built by Hotchkiss in France although these two look like Willys. This photo has appeared in various places including the website of the AFCVM, but so far I haven't found the real story behind the picture.
The story of the Police Jeeps of The Hague in the Netherlands is a long one, starting with surplus MB's in 1946 and continuing until 2016. Their Jeeps were typically modified with unique vertical sliding doors, and came with factory black paint and red wheels (460K JPEG).
This CJ-5 is one of several painted white for beach duty in 1957. The 1964 photo (260K JPEG) is by Fred Verdelman.
Another beach patrol Jeep, probably in North America. I'm looking for help in identifying the likely date and location of this photo of the CJ-5 with the missing taillight (220K JPEG). The folding vinyl top replaced the earlier canvas top as a standard accessory at Jeep dealers in 1962.
These CJ-5s with canvas tops are outside Pulisya headquarters in Olangapo City, Philippines in 1968. Like the Dutch CJ-5 above, they have the two-pane export windshield. Photo courtesy m20wc51 on Flickr.
See also the Filipino Pulisya in action in the movies: Jeeps and Chains on CJ3B.info.
The Philadelphia Police purchased a variety of Jeep vehicles over the years, notably a number of two-wheel-drive DJ-3A Dispatchers. The DJ's appeal was not its offroad capability, but its low cost as a fleet vehicle with easy access, and room in the back for equipment (or canines.) Here the K9 unit and their DJ's are being inspected by the Mayor and Police Commissioner on 2 October 1962.
Photo by Joseph Wasko for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, courtesy Temple Univ. Libraries, George D. McDowell Collection.
Some of the Philadelphia Dispatchers were outfitted with steel half cabs, so their primary purpose may have been as service vehicles, but in this photo taken on 7 May 1965 they are being used by officers patrolling a desegregation march at Girard College.
Photo by Fox for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, courtesy Temple Univ. Libraries, George D. McDowell Collection.
20 October 1971, a water main break at 33rd and Chestnut Streets. A Philly police Jeepster Commando blocks traffic while pedestrians navigate carefully. Judging from the pusher bumper, this Commando was regularly assigned to traffic duty.
It's unfortunate these photos are black & white, because Philadelphia Police vehicles were painted red and white at this time. They switched to a light blue and white in 1972.
Photo by Richard Rosenberg for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, courtesy Temple Univ. Libraries, George D. McDowell Collection.
Once again, traffic control was the function of this Jeepster Commando Station Wagon, seen in what is probably a Kaiser Jeep promotional photo, from Arch Brown's book Jeep: The Unstoppable Legend. This one belonged to the Toledo Police, so it may have been a freebie from Kaiser Jeep.
There are also places where effective policing requires vehicles that can deal with extreme geography and weather. This Jeep CJ-7 was used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Fort McMurray, Alberta, and later transferred to duty patrolling the perimeter fence at the Calgary airport, where it was photographed by Doug Morris in 1991.
The Palm Springs Mounted Police provides search and rescue in the mountains surrounding Palm Springs CA, utiliizing horses, helicopters and technical rope rescue. And of course Jeeps, including this winch- and tow-equipped YJ Wrangler.
Photo courtesy MR38 on Flickr.
A great configuration for police use is this steel hardtoop YJ with swinging rear door, belonging to the state police in Barcelona, Venezuela, and photographed for CJ3B.info in 1997.
The availabilty of right-hand-drive (70K JPEG) made TJ Wranglers attractive for use in Parking Enforcement. RHD has long been an important option for the marketing of Jeeps overseas and for postal delivery; and officers iin this this RHD Wrangler in South Pasadena CA can also just reach out the driver's window to slap that ticket on a windshield.
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Malibu Search and Rescue operated a TJ in 2010 as part of their search team. Photo courtesy of code2high.com.
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has a long history with Jeeps -- see L.A. Sheriff's Jeepin Boy Scout Rescue on CJ3B.info.
In early 2011, the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department also had the first JK Wrangler I had seen in police livery. It was photographed on Catalina Island by 10-42Adam.
As of 2016, many more departments have adopted the current Wrangler, which offers size and comfort along with its go-anywhere capability and flexibility of configuration. This beach rescue demonstrator in Germany was photographed in use by the Lower Saxony State Police.
Photo by tragesessel4350_off_duty on Flickr.
Victoria Police in Australia acquired a Jeep Wrangler Unlimited Sport powered by the 2.8L turbodiesel in 2007. Surprisingly it also has a soft top, although it was particularly tasked with winter patrol. See also a front view (230K JPEG).
Thanks to Mike Albright and Roberto Flores for finding photos, and to the photographers. -- Derek Redmond
See photos of the US Border Patrol, Patrolling the Border by Jeep.
See also Police Jeeps of The Hague and Police Service Cherokees.
Also on CJ3B.info, see Fire Service Jeeps.
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