I once heard the saying, "The days are long but, the years are short." As a younger man I had no frame of reference to place that piece of wisdom into context. Now after of 25 years in law enforcement and in the process of raising two children, I would dare to say there are few truer statements. The life and apparent demise of our "Car 54" made me think about the ending of different eras.
Our "Car 54" was never actually a police vehicle. In fact, we never even used that particular make or model. It was a donated car, given to the city by a local tow yard, so that it could be painted and look like a vintage police vehicle. The purpose was to use it for parades and other community events. During its' life the car had some rust spots and had been repaired a few times. This was usually done for free by other community partners. The last time "Car 54" needed repairs another community partner agreed to help out. Unfortunately, once the car was taken apart, it never found its way back together. It sat in covered storage for years until it was determined the vehicle would not be put back together and the hard decision to surplus it was made. One can only hope it finds its way back to life as a parts vehicle or a basket case project. Seeing the car in this condition made me think of some of the other "end of an era" changes I have observed.
When I went to the academy I was trained to use a PR 24. I'm sure many don't remember this impact weapon, it has been said the PR stood for "protect and restrain" and the 24 was the length of the baton, it was a straight a baton with a handle about 3/4's of the way down . When you got out of the car you had to remember to reach down between the door and the seat to grab it and put it in the ring on your gun belt. I wasn't on the job long before they PR 24 was replaced with expandable batons. These batons sat in a case on your belt. I can remember having to go back and pick up my expandable baton because it bounced out of the case while I was running. When it came to intimidate devices at my department, I saw the rise and fall of chemical sprays . We went from aerosol to foam to none at all. Electronic Contral Devices has changed their appearance and names several times over the years.
In a similar fashion, the "mag-lights" were also found in the car, usually between the door jam and the front seat. The flashlights were long and heavy because the size of the batteries needed to power them. Officers would wear flashlight rings to carry that would dangle from the belet. As time moved on, battery technology changed and the batteries became smaller allowing for the flashlights to be put in a small case on the belt. With the use of LED bulbs, the batteries continued to get smaller while the lights produced more illumination. Being able to have the light secured in a case on the belt reduces the chances of an officer needing a light that may have been felt in a car.
We had a dot matrix printer at my department. Of course we weren't allowed to use it at first, it was only for office staff and dispatch. The ink and paper were too expensive. Besides the computers and word processors were large, difficult to use and at the station. Now computers are in almost every car and some officers even use a tablet. The printers are so compact they mount right to the passenger head rest and the letters and images are not printed with ink, they are "burnt" onto the paper. I could write about radios transformeing from from analog to digital and so many other advancments over time that made equipment lighter and more efficent. What "end of an Era" do you remember? Tells at a Law Enforcement Journey?