Does anyone have a line on vintage CPD vehicle photos from 50s thru 70s? Are you or any of your family members retired police officers? I've been on the job for 25 years and our department has kept barely any historical material. I want to create a department vehicle history reference library, either on-line or published. I've got a lot already, but looking to fill the gaps. Thanks.
Greg, I think this will be a good place to start- http://public.fotki.com/copcardotcom/photographs_of_greg/chicago-police-vehicles/chicago-police-vehi-2/
I grew up in the 8th District, on 54th & Rutherford and I think that beat was 813. Anyway I remember the all black '59 Fords, straight six cylinder, simple radio and a large red light on top. Police cars have come a long way since then. BITD the area from Cicero west to Harlem, and from 51st to 65th had one car and one officer per shift. I related this to an officer I met at a party and he laughed. He told me it's still that way today.
Sorry I can't help with photos, but I do have a couple of questions for you, Greg. When the car paint scheme went from black to blue/white, was that a consequence of O.W. Wilson becoming Commissioner? Did they update the paint on the older cars, or just replace them outright?
When Orlando W. Wilson was hired as the Police Superintendent in Spring of 1960, he set out to change the antiquainted way the Chicago Police Dept had been doing things. The department was knee-deep in the Summerdale Scandal, where several officers were caught up as part of a burglary ring in the Edgewater Area. So, the CPD was due for serious redecorating and general reorganization. Wilson closed many of the smaller neighborhood station houses that were badly in need of repair and consolidated them into larger stations covering more area. He also wanted to ensure that all beats and officers working them had patrol cars. Prior to his taking the helm, there were only 2 or 3 patrol cars and a squadrol (paddy wagon) assigned to each district station. Officers walked foot beats or rode 3-wheel motorcycles. There weren't normally squadcars on patrol.
Wilson was a proponent of making the public feel safe and secure. He was the innovator of community policing. OW Wilson demanded that the new patrol cars be "conspicuously marked" so that they would be more easily seen by the public and more noticed on the street by criminals. Wilson had discovered that blue was a color that seemed to stand for authority and professionalism more than a black & white car. A big blue star, the new department logo, was added to the doors and POLICE on the trunk, all in reflective material. The roof lights were also changed from red to blue to set police cars apart from fire trucks and ambulances. Wilson oversaw the purchase of several hundred cars in 1960 including 2drs, 4drs, station wagons, compacts and new larger squadrols, all in the new blue and white paint scheme. The older black and white cars with red lights were not repainted in the newer design.
The blue and whites stayed until 1975 when the department switched over to the current style of white cars with the blue stripe and red graphics in honor of the Bicentennial. In addition, Mars Brand lightbars first appeared on traffic division cars in 1972 and the rest of the fleet by 1974. They were used until approximately 1988 when they finally replaced with more modern strobe lightbars.
My dad was CPD from 1957-1993, and he got some unmarked cars to take home.
CPD bought cars from all the Big 3. Chevy [GM], Ford, Dodge/Plymouth [Chrysler]. Even some Olds 88 detective cars, in 1971.
In the 60's they would go between Chevy and Plymouth. The 70's were mostly Chevy BelAirs, with some Dodge Monacos aka 'Bluemobiles' around 1974-77. Then Chevy Impala/Caprice until 1996, and Ford Crown Vics til now, that model has been discontinued.
Ford is switching to Taurus for police use, don't know if Mayor Emanual will buy them, but since they're built in city, I think he should.
> CPD takes delivery of a woodie wagon.
Thanks for thinking of me, but I have that photo already. I'm beginning to think I may have all the photos in existence. I spent several hours in the research archive/library of the Chicago Historial Society last week and only found ONE photo that I didn't already have in my collection.
My best material has come from old-timers and retirees from the department. They mostly have pictures of their friends and fellow officers, but occasionally a squadcar sneaks into a picture or two.
Hey Tomcat, did your father take any pictures of his cars over the years by chance?
Greg, you have a great site with all the old CPD cars. I grew up on the SW side (Garfield Ridge) and remember the cars with the single blue lights and the distinctive sound of the Federal Model 28P sirens. An Uncle of mine is a retired CPD Officer. I will see if he has anything. Thanks for all you do to keep the CPD history alive!
I sat in the back seat of one just like that back in 73. I was in front of our house playing, when all of a sudden a 69 mustang comes hauling butt down our street.
Jumps the curb and slams into a large tree in the parkway, the cops asked me questions about what I saw, since I was the only witness. That poor tree still had the scar from the impact when we moved away in 1985.
> Berwyn Frank Wrote:
> > 1971 Tribune Photo On E-bay
> Thanks Berwyn Frank. I'm well aquainted with that
> model from the back seat perspective. If I
> remember correctly, the 5613 on the door tells us
> that it is car #56 from the 13th district.
CPD vehicles were never numbered that way. The number means nothing other than that it is a sequential number assigned by the Motor Maintenance Division as a means to identify the vehicle. Squadrols, wagons, were in a different sequence. When a vehicle was retired, the number was usually re-used.
The number means nothing other than that it is a
> sequential number assigned by the Motor
> Maintenance Division as a means to identify the
Kinda like the four digit number on taxicabs then?
There used to be some four number sequence that cops used to identify their car and district though. Maybe it was on their license plates. I know that when they changed from the single revolving light on top to the double, there was a little plaque on the light rack with it on. Cops always used that number to ID themselves on the radio ("This is 2020. We got a couple of punks who like climbing up to the L platform instead of paying the fare like everyone else")
> jak378 Wrote:
> The number means nothing other than that it is a
> > sequential number assigned by the Motor
> > Maintenance Division as a means to identify the
> > vehicle.
> Kinda like the four digit number on taxicabs then?
> There used to be some four number sequence that
> cops used to identify their car and district
> though. Maybe it was on their license plates. I
> know that when they changed from the single
> revolving light on top to the double, there was a
> little plaque on the light rack with it on. Cops
> always used that number to ID themselves on the
> radio ("This is 2020. We got a couple of punks who
> like climbing up to the L platform instead of
> paying the fare like everyone else")
Yes, that was the beat number of the unit. It was also used as the radio call number and was either 3 or 4 digits, sometimes with a letter following. Generally in districts the first digit or first 2 digits delineated the district (20=20th District, 1=1st District), the second 2 digits are the beat number thus 2020 indicates beat 2020, which happens to be the Sergeant responsible for the 20 sector in the 20th District. District Commanders are/were the district number plus 00 i.e. 2000 District Commander of the 20th District and Watch Commanders were the district number plus 99 i.e. 899 Watch Commander of the 8th District. Field Lieutenants were designated by the district number with 90, thus 599 Field Lieutenant of the 5th District. There were other sequences used for specialty cars in districts, 71 to 75 for squadrols, 60's plus a letter for tactical teams, 60 without a number for tactical sergeants.
Specialized units have a similar scheme using the unit number as the first digits plus a number for each individual unit.
Incidentally the Superintendent is Car 3, the Mayor is Car 1 and the Chariman of the Finance Committee is Car 2,m unless they changed all of that in recent years.
You are right the number, on marked units was displayed on a small plague mounted to the light bar on the roof.
If you look at the top of the windshield of car 5613 in the picture you can see the beat tag 140? the last number is cut out. In the days of the single rotating light the beat tags were placed either in the top of the windshield or back window. Lately on E-Bay the Chicago Tribune has had a ton of Chicago Police photos from their archive for sale or auction. A lot of neat squad car pictures included.
The beat tag in the front window of the car in the eBay photo signifies that it's a regular beat car from the 014th District. We just can't read the last digit. The primary beats back then were all numbered 1 through however many beats there were in that particular district. "Fourteen-O-____" would have been their radio call sign.
The 5613 on the door and trunklid was nothing more than the vehicle's fleet inventory number. It was just a way for the policeman to find his car in the parking lot. All he had to do was match the number on the brass keytag to the number on the door.
Since 1962, the normal CPD fleet numbering system was and still is that patrol cars are numbered in the 7, 8 and 9000s. Back then, all beat cars were 6 cylinder sedans. The exception in the 60s was for V-8 cars normally used for traffic enforcement. They were numbered in the 5000s. By 1971, new cars had become larger and much heavier so the department dropped the smaller engines and bought only cars with the larger V-8 motors. All 1971 Chevy and Dodge squadcars had 5000 series numbers. But, buying approx 300-500 new cars per year, fleet realized they were going to run out of numbers quickly and went back to the 7, 8 and 9000s again.
In 1977, the full size Dodge Royal Monacos again had 5000 series numbers whereas the smaller Chevy Impalas had 7 and 8000 numbers. In 1979, CPD bought several different test vehicles (Ford Fairmonts and LTDIIs, Chevy Malibus and Dodge Aspens). They all had 2700 series numbers.
In 2007 and 08 the same thing happened with the purchase of nearly 700 Chevy Tahoe trucks. CPD trucks are normally numbered in the 6000s. But, by 2009 they ran out of available numbers and the last 300 or so of the Tahoes have regular patrol vehicle fleet numbers in the 8000s.