I enjoyed the piece by Karen Sanders on the evolution of the police package and cars at the Seattle Museum and thought I'd share a story about my restored Detroit Police car that was written by a former colleague.
Scout 14-1, The Winner
Special Agent Jim Triano, FBI ret.
A 1963 Plymouth station wagon, restored as a Detroit Police Department Scout Car by George Patak, a former Wayne State University Police Officer (1978-1985) and Ann Arbor Police Officer (1985-2005) was named Best Restored Law Enforcement Vehicle at the 2010 Woodward Dream Cruise.
In spring of 2008, George fulfilled a long-held ambition by finding a suitable vehicle to convert into the police car he remembered cruising his neighborhood in the old 14th precinct in Detroit.
He discovered the 1963 Plymouth in rare good condition in Virginia. In its' last incarnation it served as a fire department vehicle and was painted red. In its' original use, it was ordered by the U. S. Air Force as a flight support vehicle and was painted the shade of blue associated with the Air Force. George began a conversation with the owner and discovered that the engine had been replaced with a brand new Mopar engine with plenty of horsepower to respond to those police radio runs along Grand River Ave.
The brakes had been converted to modern disc brakes, eliminating the major headache of restored vehicle owners: overheating and brake failure. George quickly bought the car and had it shipped to his home in Farmington Hills, Michigan. It was even better in his driveway than it was on the Internet. George quickly negotiated a historically accurate paint job, and had lettering and graphics reproduced to complete the appearance of a working scout car.
After spending a lifetime talking to Detroit Police Department veterans and retirees about sirens, dome lights, vehicle interiors, and the hand-held spotlight, George set about to recreate every detail as if the vehicle crossed the time-space continuum into 2010.
To complete the transformation, Mike Rosenblum, ex-WSU Police now Rochester, Michigan PD, suggested a disk of actual radio calls from that period, which young Mike had recorded on reel-to-reel tape and saved. As '14-1' drives, a steady stream of authentic Detroit Police radio calls can be heard over George's Motorola speakers.
What good is a police car without officers? George and DPD retiree Mark Bando are still able to fit into the light blue uniform shirt and navy pants with the Sam Browne belt used by DPD in 1963. The two Police Officers arrived at Ferndale City Hall in August, 2010 for the Law Enforcement Vehicle Parade event of the Woodward Dream Cruise. Although other vehicles captured the spirit of days gone by, 14-1 turned the heads of all who remembered this car carrying Detroit's Finest through the streets of Motown. George and 14-1 took top honors this day and should continue to represent that time period in fine form for years to come.
In the photograph taken by Mike Rosenblum, George Patak can be seen on the left and Mark Bando on the right. Contact George directly at firstname.lastname@example.org Mike Rosenblum at email@example.com or me, Jim Triano, FBI ret., at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments or suggestions.