From The Car Guy - May 10
“Wheels of Justice”
By Lance Lambert
I have always had a fascination with police cars, probably due to my father’s 25 year career as a police officer in Tacoma. He started as a rookie in 1949 and ended his tenure in 1974 as a detective. I was always so proud to see my Dad leaving for work in his uniform that included every gizmo that a police officer needs to fight crime. There was, of course, the gun, handcuffs, billy club and bullets. But the coolest piece of equipment was the police car.
I think my first ride in a police car may have been when I received a hit in the nose during a baseball game at my grade school. Throughout my academic career I grabbed any opportunity to get out of school and I realized that, by keeping the blood flowing, I would likely be released from these halls of elementary education. My father was called and he came to my rescue in a gleaming 1957 Ford police car. He came walking down the hall in his uniform for the world and my curious, and perhaps envious, classmates to see. Dad and I left the building, climbed into the police car, and drove off into the afternoon sun looking like, in my eyes, the two most important people in the world.
One unofficial and unauthorized use for Dad’s police car was bill collecting. My brother Jay had a paper route in a part of town where the residents seemed to have difficulty paying their monthly bill. Jay’s routine was to walk the route and collect payment once a month. This always resulted in many customers giving him various reasons for not paying and asking him to come back some other time. He did, in a police car. It was amazing how many customers had no problem finding the money when they saw that he had arrived in a blue sedan with a red gumball dispenser on the roof.
One of my favorite memories was spending an entire day riding with Dad in a city police issue 1959 Ford while he did his duties investigating various illegal activities in town. The two big criminal capers we looked into that day were the theft of a ladder and, I’m not kidding, the theft of a lawn. The short investigation revealed that the business reporting the stolen lawn had not paid the landscaping company for the sod installation, so the company just came back at night, rolled up the lawn, and took it away.
Occasionally Dad would give me a ride to a friend’s house and, despite his reluctance and due to my persistence, I was allowed to announce my arrival by pushing on the horn ring and causing the siren to wail. I’m sure many parents were thrilled to hear my arrival.
Not all of my past rides in police cars have been warm & fuzzy father and son outings, however; every police car I see reminds me of those few wonderful times spent with Officer Lambert.