The Lake County Sheriff's Office has a Recreational Division that handles and targets ORV, Snowmobile and Marine enforcement. This includes a full-time sergeant, two to three recreational part-timers, and two marine deputies that generally work the weekend.

Our recreational part-timers are both state employees that have been recently laid off. With that being the case, they are not able to work another part-time job, hence they cannot work for us.

So, you can see the lock down orders have affected us on a local level as well, leaving us with lower staffing levels for enforcement.

As we enter the ORV season, ORV complaints are on the rise. I have personally been out on the road to help handle these complaints during the past Memorial Day weekend as well as one or two weekend days these past several months.

With that being said, the ol' Sheriff is out on patrol.

I have never been one to hang out at the office and twiddle my thumbs, when it would be more important to back up my guys and gals.

Being back out on the road, having driven the Ford Explorer this past weekend from my usual Dodge Charger, it made me think of my next topic, patrol vehicles.

In this edition of the "Sheriff's Corner," I discuss a brief history of patrol vehicles.


In the early days, most peace officers walked a beat and did not use motorized vehicles.

In 1899, the first police vehicle was a wagon that was run by electricity, similar to the street car on a box of Rice-A-Roni. It traveled at 16 miles per hour.

Motorcycles were used by officers before the standard 4-wheel police cruiser or sedan.

In 1908, the Detroit Police Department is credited of purchasing the first Harley-Davidson police motorcycles. The Berkeley Police Department (CA) is credited for using the first police motorcycle for regular patrol in 1911.

As motorcycles became more common, this resulted in an increase of officer deaths due to motorcycle crashes.

From 1921 to 1923, three out of the first four on-duty deaths from the Michigan State Police where the result of motorcycle crashes.

It was not until the 1920's that officers started regularly using patrol vehicles, when the New York Police Department added a fleet with mobile radios. However, early patrol vehicles were not regularly driven on patrol, instead being used to transport several officers (known as a squad) to an incident scene. This is where the term "squad car" came from.

A "paddy-wagon" is generally a large van that is used to temporarily detain people for a short period of time, or when transporting several people at one time. These were more common place before a standardized patrol vehicle.

Urban legend says the term "paddy-wagon" was coined from New York, where at the turn of the 20th century, more than half of the people arrested were Irish. This would make sense when you think about St Patrick's or St. "Patti's" Day.

In 1932, Ford introduced its Model B, which came with a flathead V-8. This was the first low priced V-8 that became the choice for police vehicles.

In the 1940's, the big three auto makers started to offer police packages vehicles. In 1969, Chrysler dominated the patrol car market until 1989, when they discontinued all rear-wheel driven police package vehicles.

During the 50's, updated radio communications made it possible for fewer officers to be out on the road, expanding their coverage area, and the ability to respond to calls faster.

Soon, automakers began to make even faster vehicles with the beginning of the "horsepower wars." Police cars of the 50's were usually fitted with special high-performance engines not offered to the general public.

In the 60's, this was backed off a little bit with cruisers still having big block V-8's.

In 1967, the first police package sport utility vehicle (SUV) was released being the Ford 4x4 Bronco.


• Dodge Monaco: Starting about 1970, the Dodge Monaco had a 7.2 liter Magnum V-8. It lost it's popularity when the oil crisis hit. The demand for gas guzzlers dropped in favor of mid-size patrol cars with better fuel efficiency.

This was the patrol car featured in the Blues Brothers Movie. You may remember this movie route: "It's got a cop motor, a 440-cubic-inch plant. It's got cop tires, cop suspension, cop shocks. It's a model made before catalytic converters, so it'll run good on regular gas."

• Chevrolet Caprice: This was the favorite when I started in the early 90's. In service from 1977 until 1996, in went through two major body designs.

From 1977 to 1990, this was the square version, also known as the "breadbox" style. In 1991, the body was completely redesigned to a round body style.

Another change was in 1994, when the police package Caprice received a new engine, the "LT1" 350 cubic inch (5.7 L) motor, which was the standard motor in a Corvette.

• Ford Mustang XL: From 1983 to 1993, the XL was the choice for special service patrol, generally highway traffic enforcement, for the Michigan State Police, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the California Highway Patrol. This contained a 5.0 litre, V-8 engine.

Not only used by law enforcement, but it also was used by Vanilla Ice when he was "Rollin' in my five-point-ohh, with my rag top down, so my hair can blow."


The Lake County Sheriff's Office currently uses two models for patrol services -- the Dodge Charger and the Ford Explorer. Due to the rural nature of Lake County, I have been phasing out the Chargers, with them now being replaced with Explorers.

As Chargers are quick, they are really intended for urban areas or places that generally have paved roads.

The Explorer is an SUV that is better adapted for our area due to having gravel roads, two-tracks and trails.

• Dodge Charger: In 2006, Dodge released a new version on the Dodge Charger for police service.

With the standard 5.7-liter V-8 motor, the Charger is the fastest police package vehicle ever made.

Having been in a recent vehicle pursuit a month ago, I can tell you the Charger handles like it is on rails.

• Ford Explorer: Moving to the Ford Explorer police package vehicle has its many advantages in a rural area.

With it's higher lift and extended wheel base, it handles rough terrain better than the low profile of the Charger.

In 2013, it was redesigned with a 3.5 litre V-6 EcoBoost, which out performs other V-8 models from other manufacturers having been tested by the Michigan State Police on an independent study.

The only issue I have seen is the small gas tank. It seems that you cannot complete a whole shift without having to refuel.

This information is provided to you for clarification of specific laws, and not legal advice. This is not to be construed as a personal opinion, agreement or disagreement of any specific law. If you have any questions on any specific topic, you can always email me your questions to