Jeeps used in law enforcement are not as common as the number of Police Service Jeep Toys might suggest. Most police departments are more concerned with having vehicles that are comfortable, and capable of chasing a fugitive at speed on streets and highways, than with dependability in varied weather and topography. But there have been some interesting examples.
MPs have of course often used Jeeps. This example was seen in a history of the Australian Military Police Corps, whose motto through the World Wars, Korea, Vietnam and other UN and peacekeeping operations has been, "For the Troops and With the Troops." This Willys MB was part of the the post-WW II BCOF (British Commonwealth Occupation Forces) in Japan.
This photo of several Jeeps in service in 1946 is from the Lincoln, Nebraska Police Department whose website has stated they were "used mostly by motorcycle officers during inclement weather" and listed the cost to the department as $2250, although that seems high for the 1940's. And these Jeeps appear to be surplus wartime MB's, which would have been available very cheaply to local government agencies, although this was more common in Europe than in North America. It would be interesting to hear the whole story of these units.
Under police protection: eight nicely marked MP jeeps of the 25th Infantry Division carry a visiting USO troupe in Korea in 1951.
Front left is Jack Benny, who had also led USO tours in World War II. Behind him is Errol Flynn, guitarist Frank Remley and actress Marjorie Reynolds. Front right is Benay Venuta who had starred the year before in Annie Get Your Gun, and behind her pianist June Bruner, mentalist Harry Kahne and tap dancer Dolores Gay. Photo taken by Lt. Robert Lynskey, courtesy of the Korean War Project.
The Willys MC began replacing the MB as the U.S. military Jeep in 1950. Designated M38 by the Army, it was a slightly beefier version of the civilian CJ-3A. This undated photo shows a couple of the new Jeeps with an MP unit.
Mark Randall identifies both the bumper lettering and the insignia as indicating US Army Europe Communications Zone, as well as pointing out that the Ridgeway cap dates the photo to post-Korea.
Military Police service was one of the non-combat roles sometimes delegated to less-expensive civilian Jeep models such as the CJ-3B. See more details on this U.S. Army MP Jeep photographed in Ethiopia in 1965.
It didn't take Willys Motors long to start seeing overseas police departments as a profitable market. One of several police photos in their late-1950s booklet Jeep Family of 4-Wheel-Drive Vehicles in Public Service shows a parade of police officers and their Jeeps in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
And the same kind of advertising photo is apparently still working in 2017, for AADS (Africa Automotive Distribution Services), who sell Chrysler's Egyptian-built Jeep J8 in military, ambulance and police versions. They offer options including armor protection (130K JPEG).
What if you were taking the family for a spin in your CJ-3B, and you got pulled over by a cop in a... CJ-3B?!
The traffic stop in the photo apparently took place, or was staged, in the 1960s in Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa. The French Gendarmerie Nationale (National Police) were responsible for colonial law enforcement, and many of their Jeeps were built by Hotchkiss in France although these two look like Willys.
Another Willys CJ-3B in Africa with a chaff screen, and this one also has some anti-riot protection for the windshield and headlights. It was photographed in Elisabethville in the Democratic Republic of Congo in 1960. Photo from Jeeps in the Congo on CJ3B.info, © MAES/ www.cegesoma.be.
Turkish police apparently used the CJ-3B, which is not surprising since it was the only domestically produced vehicle in Türkiye when Türk Willys Overland started building the Jeep there in 1955 (see Tuzla Jeeps in Türkiye.)
This photo of a Turkish cop is actually from a 1963 advertisement for Philips mobile telephones, in a police magazine in the Netherlands.
Thanks to Jan Hogendoorn for scanning the ad and providing this translation from Dutch of the text: "In addition to the language of the law, the police in Türkiye also speak Turkish. But also in Türkiye, the efficiency of people and equipment is increased by using a Phillips mobile phone for the many reports and assignments. For police forces, the Philips mobile phone is an indispensable help with telephone traffic."
Jeeps were used widely in police work in India, and that long service was recognized in December 2017 when a restored patrol Jeep was lifted onto the roof of the Odisha Reserve Police Force building in Jagatsinghpur, India.
"We have stopped using typical Indian police Jeeps suited for rough roads and steep inclines. SUVs have taken their place. But we grew up watching this vehicle. We are perhaps the last generation to have used the Jeep. So we decided to keep one old Jeep as a mark of respect atop the building," said Superintendent of Police Jai Narayan Pankaj, to The Hindu newspaper.
The long-wheelbase Mahindra Jeep on the roof also lights up at night (60K JPEG). Thanks to Jim Gregor for spotting this news item. See also an article in the Times of India about the disappearance of police Jeeps in the state of Uttar Pradesh.
This later cruiser with siren and massive horns on the front is possibly a Mahindra CL500 (photographed in Chittoor district, Andhra Pradesh, by Siddhartha Shukla in 2008.)
Not only were Jeeps used by police forces across India, but they were also very popular in Bollywood films. See for example some Mahindra Jeep Stunts on CJ3B.info.
These two officers and their CJ-2A served with the Policia Rodoviária (Highway Patrol) in Brazil.
This Brazilian CJ-5 with its distinctive rear wheel openings (see Jeeps in Brasil) was with the highway patrol operated by the roads department in the state of Rio Grande do Sul in the 1950s and 60s. In 1967 the role of policing highways in Brazil was transferred to the military.
The Argentinian version of the CJ-5 also had unique rear fenders, plus steps built into the body (see IKA Jeeps in Argentina.) This example is seen helping with crowd control in Mar del Plata, on the Atlantic coast south of Buenos Aires. I don't know what the occasion was.
These CJ-5s with canvas tops and the two-pane export windshield are outside Pulisya headquarters in Olangapo City, Philippines in 1968. Photo courtesy m20wc51 on Flickr.
See also the Filipino Pulisya in action in the movies: Jeeps and Chains on CJ3B.info.
Even large American cities were finding uses for Jeeps. Willys News reported in 1957 that the New York PD's 22nd Precinct was testing radio-dispatched four-wheel-drive Jeeps, painted in green and white, to patrol Central Park.
A couple of small photos of the CJ-5 on patrol (40K JPEG) are courtesy of PoliceNY.com.
On 16 March 1960 Police Constable Charles Sheldon was photographed with this CJ-5 of the Hamilton, Ontario Police Department. Hamilton had acquired two Jeeps for use where roads were considered too rough, such as up on the Niagara Escarpment, known as "the mountain." Hamilton Spectator photo from the book 1960 Hamilton.
Ed O'Connell sent this picture of a lighting unit built for the Emergency Services Unit in Newark NJ. Ed says, "The photo was likely taken during the riots that happened multiple times during the latter half of the 60s. The ESU color scheme at the time was yellow and green, but the Jeep was all yellow."
Also in New Jersey, a Willys Station Wagon is seen in the mid-1950s on the Benjamin Franklin Bridge connecting Camden NJ with Philadelphia, over the Delaware River.
Huntington, New York is on the north shore of Long Island, and in 1957 the town selected a Station Wagon to cover beach patrol and snow duty. Patrolmen in this photo are Paul Arato and Edward Donahue. Photo by Walter del Toro.
Galveston, Texas Police had apparently already had a Station Wagon for their Beach Patrol for a few years. This photo is circa 1950, source unknown.
The story of the Police Jeeps of The Hague in the Netherlands is a long one, starting with surplus MB's in 1946 and continuing until 2016. Their Jeeps were typically modified with unique vertical sliding doors, and came with factory black paint and red wheels (460K JPEG).
This CJ-5 is one of several painted white for beach duty in 1957. The 1964 photo (260K JPEG) is by Fred Verdelman.
Another beach patrol Jeep, probably in North America. I'm looking for help in identifying the likely date and location of this photo of the CJ-5 with the missing taillight (220K JPEG). The folding vinyl top replaced the earlier canvas top as a standard accessory at Jeep dealers in 1962.
In 1956, Los Angeles Police bought some of the new two-wheel-drive DJ-3A Dispatchers to replace 3-wheel motorcycles on traffic duty. Sgt. J.M. Thompson is seen here chalking the tire of a car parked in a time-limited parking spot. See also a front view (90K JPEG).
The Philadelphia Police purchased a variety of Jeep vehicles over the years, notably a number of Dispatchers. The DJ's appeal was not its offroad capability, but its low cost as a fleet vehicle with easy access, and room in the back for equipment (or canines.) Here the K9 unit and their DJ's are being inspected by the Mayor and Police Commissioner on 2 October 1962.
Photo by Joseph Wasko for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, courtesy Temple Univ. Libraries, George D. McDowell Collection.
Some of the Philly Dispatchers were outfitted with steel half cabs made in the city shops and were purchased for traffic duty (see "Philadelphia Police Department Buys 14 Dispatchers to Replace Motorcycles" in the March 1962 Jeep News.) In this photo taken on 7 May 1965 they are being used by officers patrolling a desegregation march at Girard College.
Photo by Fox for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, courtesy Temple Univ. Libraries, George D. McDowell Collection.
I don't think the DJ-3A seen here was an active police vehicle. This Willys advertising photo was probably staged somewhere in Toledo.
Willys-Overland had started promoting Jeeps to the Toledo Police back in 1946 when they lent four CJ-2As to the city. In 1953 the police bought ten Willys Aeros (70K JPEG) and in 1954 some Kaiser Manhattans. But by 1955 they returned to buying Fords.
Willys celebrated the purchase of DJs by two Canadian departments in the August 1962 issue of their newsletter Jeep News. It was noted that the units were produced at the new plant in Windsor, Ontario.
This is also probably a Kaiser Jeep promotional shot, but the Jeepster Commando did actually belong to the Toledo Police, one of at least a couple bought in 1968-69.
After a blizzard in 1978, TPD acquired several more Jeeps with four wheel drive, and in 2000 three Cherokees were purchased for Watch Commanders. ("History of the Toledo Police Car" by George Roush, at Toledo Police Museum.)
20 October 1971, a water main break at 33rd and Chestnut Streets. A Philly police Jeepster Commando blocks traffic while pedestrians navigate carefully. Judging from the pusher bumper, this Commando was regularly assigned to traffic duty.
It's unfortunate the photo is grayscale, because Philadelphia Police vehicles were painted red and white at this time. They switched to a light blue and white in 1972.
Photo by Richard Rosenberg for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin, courtesy Temple Univ. Libraries, George D. McDowell Collection.
There are also places where effective policing requires vehicles that can deal with extreme geography and weather. This Jeep CJ-7 was used by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Fort McMurray, Alberta, and later transferred to duty patrolling the perimeter fence at the Calgary airport, where it was photographed by Doug Morris in 1991.
The Palm Springs Mounted Police provides search and rescue in the mountains surrounding Palm Springs CA, utiliizing horses, helicopters and technical rope rescue. And of course Jeeps, including this winch- and tow-equipped YJ Wrangler.
Photo courtesy MR38 on Flickr.
A great configuration for police use is this steel hardtoop YJ with swinging rear door, belonging to the state police in Barcelona, Venezuela, and photographed for CJ3B.info in 1997.
The availabilty of right-hand-drive (70K JPEG) made TJ Wranglers attractive for use in Parking Enforcement. RHD has long been an important option for the marketing of Jeeps overseas and for postal delivery; and officers iin this this RHD Wrangler in South Pasadena CA can also just reach out the driver's window to slap that ticket on a windshield.
The Los Angeles Sheriff's Department has a long history with Jeeps (see L.A. Sheriff's Jeeps in 1957 Boy Scout Rescue on CJ3B.info.) Their Malibu Search and Rescue team operated a TJ Wrangler (100K JPEG).
The LASD JK Wrangler seen here was photographed by 10-42Adam on Catalina Island in early 2011.
Victoria Police in Australia acquired a Wrangler Unlimited Sport powered by the 2.8L turbo diesel in 2007. Surprisingly it had a soft top, although it was particularly tasked with winter patrol. See also a front view (230K JPEG).
As of 2016, many more departments have adopted the current Wrangler, which offers size and comfort along with its go-anywhere capability and flexibility of configuration. This beach rescue demonstrator in Germany was photographed in use by the Lower Saxony State Police.
Photo by tragesessel4350_off_duty on Flickr.
Italy's Carabinieri acquired this 2018 Wrangler to patrol the beaches of Romagna. It was equipped with the 2.8-liter CRD turbo diesel engine and the Mopar One Pack including a two-inch lift kit and front steering stabilizer. See a rear view (390K JPEG).
The Carabinieri had also started using FCA's new Renegade (230K JPEG).
Thanks to Mike Albright and Roberto Flores for finding photos, and to the photographers. -- Derek Redmond
See also Police Jeeps of The Hague and Police Service Cherokees.
See photos of the US Border Patrol, Patrolling the Border by Jeep.
Also on CJ3B.info, see Fire Service Jeeps.
Return to Jeep History.
Visit CJ3B.info on Facebook.
CJ3B Home | Contents | Search | Movies | 3A and 3B Community