Police cars have been on the roads for more than 120 years in the United States. While vehicles themselves have changed a lot in this time, so have police car graphics, including trends, styles, and designs. Police cars were once just simple black and white vehicles with basic designs painted on them. Today, it’s more important than ever for them to stand out. At the same time, they need to display critical information, improve visibility, and be easily identifiable.
Police car graphics can help achieve all of these goals, and in this post, we are going to cover everything you have ever wanted to know on the subject. From the types of graphics available to the materials they’re made of and tips for choosing graphics for your fleet, you will come away from this post with all of your big questions answered.
What are police car graphics?
Police car graphics are vinyl decals, or wraps, placed on police vehicles. They serve a number of purposes (more on those in a minute) and they come in a variety of styles with various features.
Depending on the goals for the graphics, they can be used to display a number of important pieces of information.
Here are some of the common pieces of information displayed on police car graphics you’ll see on the road:
- Location information, including county, city, and state.
- Vehicle identification number
- Police badges, stars, or shields
- 911 or other emergency contact information
- That particular police force’s motto or mission
- Chevron bumpers in single or multiple colors, in a variety of sizes
- Roof identification
Essentially, any design beyond the basic paint color on a police car is considered a police car graphic.
What is the purpose of police car graphics?
The purpose of police car graphics goes far beyond making a vehicle look official. In fact, these graphics play incredibly important safety roles not only for the officers operating the vehicles but for the general public as well.
For example, when a police car is easily identifiable, it helps the public know where to turn to for help. Graphics also make a vehicle more visible, and this is incredibly important for officer safety, particularly when they’re patrolling at night or in suboptimal conditions. With strategic police car graphics, drivers can identify police cars from further away, allowing for adequate time to slow down and pass safely.
Finally, these graphics are also used to display important information. This can include emergency line phone numbers, vehicle identification numbers, identifying K-9 or other special support vehicles, and more. Often, pertinent information is visible from every side of the vehicle.
The different types of car graphics available
We’ve talked about some of the police car graphics there are to choose from and the kind of information they can display. Now, let’s explore some of the materials used for creating these graphics, as well as how one option might be more suitable than another.
Car graphic materials
- Vinyl: This material poses a number of advantages, including greater durability and U.V. protection. This material also comes in a number of finishes, is environmentally friendly, and doesn’t leave behind a sticky residue. Vinyl decals are removable (which is mandatory before selling or disposing of police vehicles), and they can withstand a great range of temperatures.
- Polyester: PET is better able to withstand chemical abrasion than some other materials. It has high tensile strength and also comes in a number of finishes. Clear polyester can also be used inside or outside of the glass, making it a popular choice for car windows.
- Polyethylene: Known for being impact-resistant, easy to clean, and resistant to corrosion, polyethylene is another car graphic material worth considering.
- Polycarbonate: Polycarbonate decals are a flexible, versatile option for decals and they can be used indoors and outdoors.
While each of these materials poses certain advantages, vinyl tends to be the most common choice for police car graphics. This durable, reliable material is used time and time again to display important information and make police cars more visible.
That being said, depending on the type of graphics you need for your vehicle, you may use a different material or a combination of multiple materials.
Types of police car graphics
All police car graphics aren’t created the same! From detailed wraps to simple lettering or perforated options, there are plenty of designs and styles to choose from.
- Printed Vinyl Decals: These can be created in every shape, size, and color placed on different areas of the vehicle, including the hood, doors, trunks, or roof. For law enforcement vehicles, these often include shields, badges, patches, and more. These are used to personalize your vehicles, boosting your municipality or department’s specific match colors and logos
- Pigmented Cut Vinyl for Lettering and Numbers: As you might imagine, vehicle lettering is used to display information rather than designs. For example, you might choose vinyl lettering that reads “POLICE,” as well as phone numbers, location, and other important information. Pigmented vinyl lasts a very long time without fading. Most departments choose a basic color to identify vehicles, but there are a variety of choices to personalize your fleet.
- Vehicle Wraps: They can be made to fully cover a vehicle or a partial wrap that covers a big section of the vehicle but not its entirety. Vehicle wraps involve a more complicated (and costly) process, and they take longer to complete. They’re typically used for promotions purposes like a D.A.R.E. police vehicle or for changing the entire color of a vehicle.
- Perforated Window Vinyl: These graphics allow for one-way vision, which means if they are placed over the rear window of a police vehicle, it’s still possible to see out of that window. These are easily removable, do not damage the vehicle, and help you use more available space on a vehicle for displaying information or designs. (Please note, the use of perforated vinyl on front, passenger, and driver side windows is prohibited in every state)
Decals vs. wraps
You might be wondering whether decals or a vehicle wrap is the right option for your fleet. The difference between the two tends to come down to size. A decal is a great choice for a badge or a singular design. On the other hand, a wrap may be a more appropriate option for covering a large portion of the vehicle with more information or a bigger design. Generally speaking, vinyl car decals are a more common option for police car graphics, but there may be situations where a full or partial vinyl wrap is a better choice.
How to Choose Graphics for a Police Car
As for the right police car graphics for your fleet? Well, there are many considerations to take into account before you land on a specific design. (This can be tricky to do on your own, so remember we are always here to help!)
Here are four of the primary factors to take into account before nailing down your final choice.
It’s no surprise the design is a big part of helping you decide on police car graphics. This includes the visual aspects of the graphics, including colors, fonts, and other elements. For most police cars, sticking to high-contrast colors is the way to go because it helps the design stand out and makes the vehicles more identifiable.
You might stick to a simple design that’s bold enough to catch the eye but isn’t distracting. Or perhaps a more intricate design is more your style. But one of the great things about police car graphic designs is how versatile and flexible they are. There are virtually endless options to choose from and a design to satisfy any style or taste.
Another consideration when it comes to choosing police car graphics is the material. While some departments do all reflective, we are finding that a combination of reflective and non-reflective vinyl is the most popular choice. Non Reflective vinyl is much more cost-effective and adding some reflective pieces to your kit will catch people’s eye to keep your fleet shining and keep the team safe on the road.
Here are a few of the important factors that go into choosing a graphics company for your police car graphics.
Experience is helpful in any industry, and the more experience your graphics company has, the better! Only choose a company that has experience with emergency responder graphics because they will have seen and done it all, and they can lend their experience and knowledge to your particular project. They will also have a variety of previous designs to choose from for inspiration, and they will know which materials last the longest and suit police vehicles best.
The cheapest option is almost never the right way to go when it comes to any police car graphics. Unfortunately, cheap graphics often come at a greater cost in other ways. For example, the work will be subpar, the decals won’t last, and the design won’t meet the vision you have for it. We recommend focusing on finding a graphics company with fair and competitive pricing. You will also want to get a quote in writing before going ahead with the project to ensure that you eliminate any surprises down the road.
If you simply want police car graphics that read “POLICE” on the side of your vehicle, most graphics companies can make that happen. But let’s say you want a more intricate or involved design. In that case, make sure you choose a graphics company that has all kinds of designs to choose from. You’ll want to know they’re comfortable and experienced with a variety of designs, and that’s why asking to look at samples of their work is a good idea.
Any graphics company will tell you they are the best choice for your police car graphics. It’s always helpful to hear directly from the source, but even more importantly, we encourage you to hear what their customers have to say. You can often find this information by performing a simple Google search. You’ll find Google reviews, Facebook ratings, and much more this way. Searching for the company can also bring up any potential red flags you should be aware of before moving forward.
(Search Graphic Designs International on Google to take a look at our reviews! We’re very proud of our rating and the positive feedback we get from our clients.)
Finding the best police car graphics for your fleet
You have a lot to think about when choosing graphics for law enforcement vehicles. The good news is, choosing a trustworthy and experienced graphics company can take a lot of the guesswork out of these decisions.
At Graphic Designs International, we are proud to be the premier choice for police car graphics, as well as graphics for a number of industries that focus on protecting Americans. From police and sheriff’s departments to fire rescue and hospitals, we have experience with everything from bicycles to mobile command centers and helicopters. We have over 25 years of experience working with every type of vehicle, design, and material you can imagine. Our police graphics are thoughtfully designed to give you a look you like at a price that works with your budget.
We would love to help you take your vision for your law enforcement fleet and create a custom look for your vehicles. Ready to get started? Click here to call and speak to an expert. Or, if you would like to browse some of our previous designs, visit this link next.