Are Police Cars Bulletproof: A Comprehensive Guide

It’s no secret that police officers have very dangerous jobs, and their end goal for every shift is to make it home safely at the end of their shift. With the ongoing dangers that officers face daily, their protection has become much stronger over the years. Patrol cars also face dangers daily, and their safety has been questioned over the years which has resulted in increased protection.

Some patrol car windows are bulletproof to ensure that the safety of police officers is not at risk while in the car. However, the effectiveness of the glass is questionable since there have been times when the glass did not protect officers.

So, if you are going into law enforcement and have questions about the safety of the vehicle then this article can be used as a helpful guide. Remember although it’s considered a dangerous job, police officers follow great safety protocols to ensure that they have an incident-free shift.

Bulletproof Doors, Windows & Tires

Do Cop Cars Have Bulletproof Windows

When it comes to the safety of police officers, the patrol car seems to be one of the biggest targets, since it is extremely noticeable. This has caused grave concerns as police officers and civilians have been dealing with increased tension over the years. One of the most heartbreaking police assassinations was back in 2014 when NYPD officers Wenjian Liu and Rafael Ramos were fatally ambushed while eating in their patrol car. Unfortunately, this was not the only instance in which officers were ambushed, as you’ll read later on there were incidents that’s resulted in departments having to make extreme decisions after an incident.

So how exactly does this whole bulletproof window thing work? Although glass cannot be fully bulletproof and merely serves as an added layer of protection, the glass may not be resistant to all bullets but does decrease an officer’s chances of being injured by gunfire. The glass is made with an extra thick material which makes it difficult for a bullet to penetrate the glass and almost makes it shatterproof.

Armored Vehicles

Another added layer of protection that police departments have started using is armored vehicles which are usually used for more militarized police vehicles and are often seen in SWAT trucks. Armored vehicles can also be found for riot control officers which can typically be seen at large protests. The Lenco BearCat is the armored truck that is used by police departments for SWAT teams.

Here are just a few of the features that come with the Lenco BearCat.

  • Emergency sirens
  • Rotating Roof Hatch
  • Gun Ports
  • Radiation Detection Systems
  • Protection from chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and high yield explosives

As you can see these types have more to off than bulletproof windows and are extremely militarized. They have been criticized by civil rights groups because they are considered way too militarized to be used against civilians and are considered to be used at war and not at a protest.

Variation by Police Department

Do Cop Cars Have Bulletproof Windows

It is important to note that every police department, and what may be considered the norm for the New York City Police Department may not be considered necessary for a police department in a small town in Oklahoma. With that being said some departments do not necessarily invest in making their patrol cars bulletproof. The reason for this will of course vary but these are just a few reasons.

It’s quite expensive. The cost of adding bulletproof windows to a vehicle can be very expensive, and it’s no secret that police departments do not have the biggest budget. This has been an ongoing issue for years. The installation of bulletproof glass for one car alone can cost thousands of dollars, which is extremely expensive when the department has a lot of cars.

Officials do not believe it’s necessary. In some cases, this may be true, there are a lot of small towns across the country that are quite safe and see little to no crime daily. Some departments believe the added costs of putting bulletproof windows on their cars is unnecessary since their officers are not facing any harm during their shift.

  • Loss of functionality. This is more of a downside if anything, but officials do believe that by adding bulletproof windows to the car the windows themselves will lose functionality over time, which is a major concern if officers ever need to participate in a shootout. Due to the thickness of the glass, the door windows may not be able to roll down properly, which may result in officers having to keep their windows rolled up at all times in some cases.
  • Lack of community support. This is where community policing comes to play, and it also goes hand in hand with the functionality of the windows themselves. Many people believe that police are less approachable if their windows are rolled up thus causing a shield between the officers and the actual community. For this reason, officials believe it is not worth it to invest so much money in these windows if they are not going to be used.
  • Vests are enough. Some department leaders believe that the issuance of a bulletproof vest is enough protection and that armoring a patrol car is unnecessary.

Although it may seem unreasonable to add extra layers of protection to police officers especially given the constant dangers that they face, it is still important to consider the lack of bulletproof windows on a case by case basis. As mentioned before, not all police departments face the same amount of danger there have been instances where police officers have made it to retirement without ever having to draw their gun.

Learn about bulletproof vests HERE!

Changes in Law Enforcement

Do Cop Cars Have Bulletproof Windows

Although the possibility of being ambushed while sitting in a patrol is not very likely, there have been unfortunate moments in which officers have been ambushed while in the car. In some of the cases where an officer was ambushed, the police department later went on to make the necessary adjustments to ensure that their officers have that added layer of security. The following instances that are about to be mentioned were moments in which officers were ambushed but resulted in their police departments making changes and adding bulletproof windows to their cars.

  • Philadelphia: This incident took place in January 2016 when officer Jessie Hartnett was sitting in his patrol car at an intersection when she was ambushed by a gunman who fired 13 shots wounding Hartnett. Fortunately, Hartnett was able to open the door and shoot the suspect which later resulted in an arrest. After the incident, the department decided to make its first steps towards adding bulletproof glass to their cars.
  • New York City: This took place in July 2017 when officer Miosotis P. Familia was at a marked command post when a gunman opened fire which fatally wounded her. After this incident, the police department ended up investing $1.3 million to install more protection to their vehicles.

These are not the only instances in which police were wounded but they were instances that inspired departments across the entire country to invest in more protection for their officers. As policed officers continue to face dangerous situations and tensions continue to rise between police and civilians more departments are looking for ways to keep their officers safe.

Final Thoughts

When you are in the academy training to become a police officer your instructors will teach you everything, they possibly can to ensure that you are prepared for any situation. However, nothing can prepare you for the real thing, and no matter how much you learn there is nothing compared to the actual danger that is on the streets that you will be patrolling. If you are going into this profession then you are very much aware of the dangers that come with it, and your bravery shines through that when you decide to continue your journey in this profession.

It’s safe to say that the police department will be reviewing their safety protocols regularly to ensure that their office is not being put in harm’s way regularly. While bulletproof windows are simply added protections for officers, they are still just a small layer of protection. There are still many more things that need to be done to ensure that police officer feel safe while at work.

Related Questions: Are Cop Cars Bulletproof A Comprehensive Guide

How much does it cost to install bulletproof windows in a car?

When it comes to one specific car the average cost of bulletproof windows can range anywhere from $3,000-$5,000. If you are seeking higher protections, then the cost can be as high as $20,000.

Will police departments add bulletproof windows to all cars or only a few?

Yes! Departments are moving towards adding bulletproof windows to all cars. In New York City officials added bulletproof glass to ALL cars, after a fatal shooting of a police officer. Other departments have started following New York City’s lead

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Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.