Editor’s Note: Before you go writing any angry emails, please note the date of publication — April 1, 2012. Now, enjoy a chortle or a chuckle courtesy of the PoliceOne Editorial Team. Read all the stories here.
The City of Antiquity was incorporated by the Ohio legislature back in May of 1808 and now boasts a population of just over 18,000 people. It is a city within a city, only a handful of miles from the State Capital in Columbus, Ohio. Everything about this upscale community looks normal until you come in contact with their police department.
The City of Antiquity Police Department has 45 sworn peace officers with a support staff of 18 civilians and enjoys an annual budget of just over nine million dollars. But what makes this police department different from any other is that they patrol their seven square miles with vintage 1940s, 50s, 60s and early 70s patrol cars.
City policy states every police officer employee must utilize a vintage classic, take-home patrol car of their choosing. All police vehicles must be 1975 models or older, must be black and white with no two make and models the same unless they are at least two years apart in age. This was the brain-child of Police Chief Pete Johnson who was tired of high turnover and wanted to make the work place a fun place.
What makes this police department different from any other is that they patrol their seven square miles with vintage 1940s, 50s, 60s and early 70s patrol cars.
Police Chief Pete Johnson came up through the ranks as a patrolman in 1962 when he was only 18 years old. According to Chief Johnson, who wasn’t even old enough to buy ammo for his duty weapon (a Smith and Wesson Model 10 .38 Special complete with wood grips and ramped front site), he joined the force to give back to his community, but more importantly so he could stand in front of crowds working police security at major sporting events.
Chief Johnson smiles when he explains how his entry into law enforcement was instantaneous. He said, “We didn’t have police academies. Back then, the police chief just pinned a badge on a hand-me-down uniform and told you to report to night shift. No police academy, just your sergeant showing you how to use a slap-jack and techniques on using a 26-inch night stick.
“If you were assigned day shift you got an 11 inch baton called a ‘day-stick’,” Johnson explained. “I got 15 more inches because night shift was more dangerous!”
The Antiquity police department’s policies and procedures manual are short and sweet and to the point. There are only a handful of updates since the days when Chief Johnson joined the force. One of those changes is that semiautomatic weapons are now allowed to be carried as duty weapons.
But officers are forbidden to carry mace, pepper spray, TASERs or stun guns. In lieu of those non-lethal weapons, officers are sent to the very best in-service training schools across America which teach courses in verbal judo, the art of gentle persuasion, street hypnosis, and tactical hypnotic control techniques.
Because of a large annual budget, the Antiquity police department prides itself on having classic police cars as part of their fleet. Lieutenant Dave Montgomery — who drives a 1949 Mercury Police Cruiser — explains, “None of our authentic show room quality patrol cars are alike because that would be uninspiring and just plain boring!” Montgomery went on to say that his black and white Mercury club coup has a powerful 255 cubic inch, 110 horsepower flathead V8 still capable of going 100 mph.
Sergeant Ralph Murphy has one of the faster police cars in the fleet — he patrols in a 1972 Dodge Polara, one of the most respected cars of its time. Murphy laughed as he described his car. “My black and white midsize has 440 cubic inches, reaches over 130 mph and goes 0-60 in seven and a half seconds, never mind that there are no highways in our city and yes, the 23 channel CB radio still works great!”
Officer Scott Kennedy enjoys patrolling in his 57’ Chevy Bel Air sports coup complete with the super turbo fire V8, one of the first fuel injected cars of it’s time. The most recognizable patrol car in the fleet, known for its use of tail fins and chrome but best of all, according to Officer Kennedy, “its ROOMY!” Kennedy, who stands at 6’9” tall, tilts the scales at just over 320 pounds, is quick to remind you that he has no problem passing the annual physical agility test!
All police cars are fully restored and authentic. For example if a patrol car had single rotating “bubble gum” beacons, magnetic tear drop Kojak lights or mechanical sirens then that equipment was put on that particular car but every patrol car is also outfitted with new Whelen hands-free sirens with PA, laptop computers, trunk mounted shotgun racks and top of the line police radio equipment.
Each police car is valued at $60,000 to $85,000 and is considered an investment for the City of Antiquity as well as an awesome PR tool. Studies have shown vintage police cars to be non-threatening, enduring, tolerant, and reassuring all at the exact same time!
The police department showcases their classic police cars several times a year in various parades around the Columbus area. In 2011, the department participated in parades on National Night Out, the 4th of July Parade, the Thanksgiving Day Parade and the Dunkin’ Donuts Parade (which was mandatory).
Most of the same police department guidelines are still in place when Chief Johnson joined the force back in 1962. Only a few new policies have been added by Chief Johnson since he took over as police chief in 1978. Chief Johnson shared some of these policies both old and new.
See if you remember seeing any of these when you started your career in law enforcement:
1.) Must be at least five feet 10 inches tall. 2.) Must have a good appetite. 3.) Be able to grow a thick moustache (female candidates: moustache optional). 4.) Operate a motor vehicle safely under stress. 5.) Clean and detail classic police car for mandatory parades. 6.) Be able to shoot and clean a Smith and Wesson Model 10 .38 Special. 7.) Be able to shoot and clean highly complex large frame semi-automatic weapons. 8.) Be able to capture and arrest crooks, villains and common criminals. 9.) Be able to follow directions well. 10.) Work Holidays. 11.) Use of brass knuckles or slap jack only when absolutely necessary. 12.) Read at least at the 8th grade level. 13.) Have some understanding of the penal code. 14.) Change oil in patrol car every 3,000 miles. 15.) No more than three patrol cars parked at a donut shop at the same time. 16.) Remember your pen is your most important tool. 17.) The use of bad language is permitted when drawing your weapon. 18.) Have a working knowledge of where all the best restaurants are in the city.
The city of Antiquity offers great pay, uniforms, pension plan, medical, training, take home vintage classic police vehicle of your choice as per policy (1975 or older model) and unlimited fuel and oil. The city has the best certified mechanics in the State of Ohio and access to vehicle parts world wide.
Antiquity currently has no police officer openings at this time but if they did... I could see myself driving a 1956 Blank and White Ford Crown Victoria! What would you be driving?
About the author
Mike Peterson is a retired 23-year veteran of law enforcement. He served three years in the United States Military Police and then 20 years with the City of West University Place Police Department in Houston, Texas. Mike held a Master Peace Officer certification and was a Certified Instructor, Advanced Field Training Officer, Crime Prevention Inspector, and background investigator. He was certified in bicycle patrol, officer survival tactics, first line supervision, and City Manager Leadership Training. Mike is a graduate of Leadership Houston, Class XIV, Texas Law Enforcement Torch Run Top Fundraiser and Inductee into the Texas Special Olympics Hall of Fame (1996), three time Texas Torch Run representative for International Special Olympics torch run ‘Final Legs’ in Minnesota (1991), Austria (1993) and Connecticut (1995). Mike has received numerous Senate and House of Representative Resolutions and Proclamations for his fundraising with the Law Enforcement Torch Run as Texas’ Top Fundraiser.
Mike has appeared on ABC-TV’s ‘The View’, was a past finalist on Ed McMahon’s ‘Next Big Star’ contest and was a finalist in Houston Funniest Comedian contest. Mike has opened for such luminaries as Jay Leno, Robert Schimmel, Dave Attell, Richard Lewis, Kathleen Madigan, Jeff Dunham, Frank Caliendo, Michael Winslow, Anjelah Johnson, Ralphy May, and Alonzo Bodden to name a few. Mike has appeared numerous times on Houston’s local CBS ‘Great Day Houston’ and opened for four-Time Grammy Award Winner Glen Campbell as well as performing at police luncheons and banquets. Mike has also had the honor of performing for our Troops over in Iraq. You can see more of Mike on www.myspace.com/comedycop or www.rooftopcomedy.com.