They got little cars
That go beep, beep, beep
They got little voices
Goin' peep, peep, peep
— Randy Newman, "Short People"
When I see those dinky Chevys cops are driving these days, it makes me want to mount a stool at the biker bar on Talleyrand and weep into my beer. That the gray-haired Harley hoodlums at every table can outrun police just ain't right!
The current cop vehicle is the Chevrolet "Caprice," a word that means a sudden, possibly insane, notion. Whoever notioned these downsized, popo putt-putts should be arrested. Gas-sippers are perfect rides for Grammy and Gramps, but for cops?
Back in the day, everybody drove Ford Crown Vics, cars so powerful, and so ugly, only cab companies and cops could love them. Just the sound of those monster V-8s winding up could bring law and order to places where gouging out eyes and biting off ears were the preferred indoor/outdoor sports.
How can cops be Road Warriors, or Warrior Princesses, in cars that make no noise, for heaven's sake? Where's the respect?
Where's the space? For cops to be cops, they need stuff — briefcases, Kevlar vests, leg irons, batons, spare Tasers, shotguns, etc.
Cops also need thug storage. Imagine if Caprice-equipped cops had to arrest some 350-pound fatback? They'd have to jam that porker into the cruiser with a crowbar. Once an XXXL fanny hits the cushions, the shocks will pop and the springs will be sprung before the cops can offload the weight at the Jax Jail.
It's embarrassing, but other cop rides are even weirder. Let's review:
The Armored Personnel Carrier: Due to Uncle Sugar's generosity, every one-blinker hamlet in America has one of these diesel behemoths. They are, truly, the gift of a baby elephant. Filling the tank and changing the oil may throw some of these burgs into Chapter 9.
Jacksonville's APC rumbles around the city now and then, but I've never understood how police actually use the thing. Most APCs are armed with a .50-caliber cannon that fires a cartridge the size of a porn star's pride and joy. A .50-cal, armor-piercing slug will indeed kill a bad guy, but it will also keep going, through various walls, buildings and citizens, until it falls to Earth a few miles downrange. As flacks will tell you, "These optics, ladies and gentlemen, are not optimal."
The Bicycles: Where to start? How about the short pants on the cops? These emphasize hairy knees (male) and bodacious buttocks (female) — not, perhaps, an appropriately forensic impression. What do bicycle cops do when they arrest someone? They can't put the prisoner on the handlebars. That's illegal! I suppose they can chain the perp to the nearest light pole and engage in sparkling repartee until a Caprice whispers to the curb.
The Roach Coach: Jacksonville's S.W.A.T. vehicles look like Aunt Millie and Uncle Mel's RV, with striping and shade canopies, for heaven's sake! Note to cops: ALL S.W.A.T. vehicles should be a) armored, b) painted black and c) studded with menacing gun ports and sinister antennas. I usually don't give police style and fashion advice, but this is an emergency.
The Choppers: From my book-lined, thinking emporium in Police Zone I, within howling distance of the jail, I am often treated to hours of ear-shattering engine noise from the sheriff's helicopters. Yes, I know they can spot hidden hoodlums with Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) scanners, but at what price? Those Jet Rangers cost $5 million a pop and burn gallons of Jet A-1 every minute. It would be cheaper just to loose the police dogs. For what those contraptions cost, the city could buy enough Alpo to feed the K-9 Corps for a millennium. Even worse, with all the rotor racket overhead, no one sleeps and absolutely no one gets laid. This impedes the progress of civilization.
The Nags: The horse, of course, requires a course to maximize the show of force. Yet, as I stroll the leafy boulevards that divide Downtown from anarchy, I do not appreciate, in the pre-espresso dawn, bushels of steaming manure deep enough to sink my shih tzu. It escapes me how police officers can maintain their dignity and effectiveness atop beasts likely to pee, fart and poop at any minute.
The Golf Carts: A few weeks ago, as I headed to the marbleized Palace of Justice for another round before circuit and county courts, I nearly fell out when I saw two cops rattle by in a golf cart, complete with blue light and, as we say Down South, a sire-een.
I try to imagine a police cart rolling down the free-fire zone known as Moncrief Road or ambling through those section-eight hellholes off Jesse Street. The only way cops can achieve law and order from a golf cart is if the gunmen and dope dealers have an infarct while laughing.
Officers, I know it's not your faults. You ride what the taxpayers give you. Next time you're in Zone I, let's have a brew up on Talleyrand. We'll lament together, with ageing Outlaws and Hell's Angels on oxygen, as things get even more absurd,
In Crime City.