IRVING -- James McLellan knew exactly what came to mind when he was asked to imagine a police squad car.
"Going back to the old days with the old bubble gum light on the top, and you know, the old Mayberry, Andy Griffith days," the Irving Police Department Public Information Officer said. "You're just thinking of a classic black and white police car."
Back then, it was Andy and Barney's Ford Galaxy 500, the boys from Adam-12 cruising in the Plymouth Belvedere, and even poor Rosco P. Coltrane's Dodge Monaco that caught our eye on the boys in blue beat.
You don't know what's coming up behind you with the blue lights, and that includes SUVs.
"Back then, it seemed a little odd, a little awkward that guys were driving SUVs," McLellan said about the early days of seeing officers drive SUVs on patrol.
But here we are.
Check almost any scene in North Texas, and a police SUV will be on site.
In fact, Ford says they're now selling more SUVs than cars to cops for the first time ever, hitting at 51% of their market share.
There are some obvious advantages. Number one?
"You've got to consider ballistic equipment: Helmets, vests, rifles, shields, shotguns, plus all the other typical equipment you'd see in a police car," McLellan said. "Fire extinguishers, cones, flares. There's just so much to carry."
No doubt, it's a lot more than what officers once were responsible for having with them.
Also, that bigger windshield helps!
"Having all that equipment in the car, the in-car camera and all that stuff can create a lot of blind spots," McLellan said.
Fuel efficiency isn't the concern it once was, and one of the few disadvantages is fear of roll over in a chase situation.
McLellan said that's somewhat negated, though, since officers can access rougher terrain now than they couldn't in their cruisers.
Say so long, Crown Vic and Caprice. The SUV is the wave of the police future.