City Government

Police Patches, Look Alike Cars Abound

When is a cop car not a cop car?

When it is driven by a renta cop trying to look just like a real cop.
A couple of readers report sighting a white Ford Crown Vic “police car” sporting a set of overhead lights, the outline of Idaho on a shiny gold shield pasted to the doors, a laptop computer on the dash, antennae just like the big boys and a slogan on the back fenders easily mistaken for the familiar “Community Policing” or STEP we see on BPD vehicles.

The License plate is a vanity number with DEI on it.

The GUARDIAN also spotted the fake police vehicle and noticed it belongs to DISHION ENTERPRISES, Inc. No one has reported any illegal or improper acts, but the rig looks like a “wannabe.”

We did some more checking on the Dishion name on line and ended up at various county commission sites. It looks like the guy is into everything. Even eBay where we got this link to POLICE PATCHES.

We made calls to the Ada Sheriff and Attorney General where there was little concern voiced about the easy access–for as little as 99 Cents to official looking police paraphinalia. Talk about a loose and lax attitude toward cop gear!

It would seem logical for local cop agencies to do some trademark/copyright work with their patches, paint schemes on cars, etc. Some places have laws prohibiting anything that “resembles or could readily be confused with” a real police agency. They prohibit the use of any names of the city, county or state or the words POLICE, SHERIFF, in their name or signs.

Our reader expressed concern about people offering information or even seeking out a real copper only to find it is a uniformed wannabe rent-a-cop with a Crown Vic.

If you want to get some respect along the greenbelt this summer, might try an expensive mountain bike, a black and white helmet, a polo shirt, dark shorts with a wide leather belt festooned with “stuff” in pouches and black shoes. Include an earpiece for a cell phone for increased effect.

Comments & Discussion

Comments are closed for this post.

  1. As a police officer I have been VERY concerned with the increasing numbers of “police” cars that are out there on the streets. This was addressed by the Idaho State Police 30 years ago for their cars by basically “trademarking” them with an Idaho State Law that declares it illegal to have one looking like theirs.

    My suggestion about 6 months ago to the Boise Police Chief was that we paint the hoods and trunks white when we sell ours. I haven’t seen the one from this story but Ithere is another one out there that says “Boise Patrol” and is an old BPD car being used by private security. Boise DOES have a city ordinance about secutiry guard uniforms not being the same or near the same as BPD, I’m sure that we could come up with something to protect both the public and the officers. Good catch Guardian!

  2. How does one weigh the advantages and disadvantages of such a situation. How many times have you slowed down on the streets when you saw one of these look a likes, versus how often does someone actually ask a rent-a-cop for police assistance. I agree these people are strange and walking a fine line on the legality of it, but it may actually help out and increase the perception of security.

  3. I wonder about the overhead lights.
    Were they red and/or blue? If so, that violates state law. If they’re yellow, amber and/or white, that’s OK.
    Green is debatable (law was unclear last time I checked, but that was some years ago).
    Of course, I guess one could have red and/or blue non-lights — just the globes, for example, with no bulbs. Possibly even bulbs if they aren’t wired. As for wired lights, is a light a light when it’s tuned off, or is it just a bulb? Guess it’s just a bulb, cuz you don’t have to stop for it.

    In other words, lots of unclear stuff in the laws about cop cars.
    A vague law that just says non-cops can’t have cars that “look like” police cars doesn’t sound enforceable (unconstitutionally vague); same with uniforms that look or don’t look like cop suits — how much unlike a cop does it have to look? Hard to define.

    Nope, I’m not taking sides on any argument for against the wannabes; just noting how much fog may be in the way of clearing the air.

  4. I think a related sidebar discussion are security concerns on how readily available police patches are to acquire. We know post 9-11 terrorists have sought out uniforms, be it police, fire, ambulance, even Fed Ex, UPS, etc. It seems all to easy to replicate a police identity through private purchases of used police vehicles, equipment belts, and even patches. The problem is compounded by agencies that assist those with their hobby of patch collections. Many jurisdictions will provide a police patch to any requestor without verification. I have attended conferences on safety and security issues where jurisdictions will have patches on their table for distribution or pass them out to the crowd during a presentation.

  5. Mike Murphy...
    Jun 12, 2008, 1:12 am

    Don’t be a Sheep intimidated by “Official” looking vehicles, uniforms, etc., and you’ll probably be okay.

    Don’t like the look of the “Cop” trying to pull you over? Call 911 and make sure they’re real, pull over in a well lit and populated area (i.e. Jackson’s, Albertson’s), etc.

    I’ve told more than one rent-a-cop flashing tin (and trying to affect the presence of a real Cop) to F*** Off.


    For that matter, you can go to and buy tactical gear, BDU’s, weapons slings, etc…

    And that’s a TAME sight.

    Google things like “Improvised Munitions”, “The MIT Guide to Lockpicking”, or any number of other nefarious topics.

    And before Google and the Internet there was “The Anarchists Cookbook”, “Techniques of Harassment” (Volumes 1 thru 4), “U.S. Army Manual TM 31-210” and the Singer Sewing Machine with Embroidery Capabilities to name but a few.

    If the bad guys want it (be it a cop patch or a crude nuke) they’re gonna get it.

    And there ain’t a damned thing you, I, the local Fuzz, or the Patriot Act can do to stop it.

    It’s only a matter of time and the proper application of cold, hard cash.


    And now that I’ve grouped terms like “Tactical”, “Improvised Munitions”, “Nuke”, etc., together in an internet posting…

    I’d like to say hello to the No Such Agency, Admiral John Poindexter’s Total Information Awareness Program, other agencies operating under USAM 9-7.000 and various Executive Orders, and thank them for their service to our country.


  6. Like my (ex) Republican friends like to say about stuff like this, “if your not guilty you shouldn’t be scared”.
    Do look alike cops knock and announce before they bust into your house?

  7. As a security guard that drives a patrol vehicle here in San Diego california, there are laws that have us from looking like police officers. We re only alowed to use amber top bar lights on our vehicles. Also we have to have our vehicles not look like police vehicles or have paint to look like police vehicels. This why most of security vehicles in California are basic white with our insigna on them.

  8. Officer Branson
    Oct 2, 2008, 10:51 pm

    My name is Josh I am a Private Security Officer here in the state of Louisiana for an apartment complex. I drive a white 1999 Ford Crown Vic P71 while on the Job and off. I do have a driver side spotlight on the vehicle but thats it. I don’t have any kind of LED OR Strobe light in my vehicle what soever. Yes I look like a cop and No I am not trying to pass off as one I have security written all over my uniform and whenever I talk to people on the job I always announce that my name Is Officer Branson I am the private security Officer for this apartment complex. People get mad at me sometimes because they say I am a look alike cop, I tell them if they have nothing to worry about they should have no reason being mad at me for -In their words – Looking like a cop. I also tell them I drive a crown vic because I want to look as professional as possible. The other reason I drive a Ford Crown vic is because they are truly great cars. Cops use them for a reason and one of the reasons is the frame on these car are really strong for example my brother is a City Police Officer a few months someone ran a stop sign, hit him and flipped his car over twice the only 2 things that kept him alive was God and the strong frame on his car. I do agree that more and more people are wanting to be cop look alikes. but thats there wrong and I hope one day they will get caught.

  9. Wow…. police just worry about your job. People getting killed and robbed and there worrying about people driving crown vics. What people drive is no concern to you. It’s our personal right to drive what we want.

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