November 29th, 2002

Reject Police-car Advertising

Charleston (SC) Post and Courier

Money crunches at all levels of government have inspired innovations in the
increasingly demanding task of raising the revenues needed to meet budgetary
obligations, if possible, without significant tax hikes. But not all of the
revenue-boosting ideas should be put into practice.

For instance, selling advertising space on police cars would undermine the
authority and seriousness of law enforcement’s vital mission to protect and
serve. Yet that notion is catching on across the nation—and even is being
considered by the town of Summerville, as recently reported in this newspaper.

Summerville Administrator Mark Williams has proposed taking advantage of an
offer that would allow the town to pay $1 to lease a $27,000 police car for
three years in exchange for allowing the placement of commercial messages on
that vehicle. More than 20 municipalities have already entered into similar
contracts with Charlotte-based Government Acquisitions Inc. for such police
cars—with another 200 or so, including Harleyville and Ridgeville, joining
Summerville on the list of municipalities considering such a move.

Mr. Williams stressed to Town Council that any ads for Summerville police cars
would have to be in good taste, explaining: "We wouldn’t want a police
car running around with a Hooters logo on it."

But which other ads would be in good taste? The Government Acquisitions Inc.
Web site includes photos of a squad car with McDonald’s Golden Arches across
the hood.

Even those who enjoy an occasional Big Mac should be concerned about compromising
the public image of police officers by turning their vehicles into marketing
tools. Victor Adams, president of Alltech Specialists, a Tampa-based distributor
of home burglar-alarm systems, offered this revealing observation on why he’s
eager to buy such ad space:

"We’ll be able to attach our name to local authorities, which gives us
near-instant credibility."

That credibility should not be sold. Police use those official cars to chase
criminals and speed to the scenes of accidents. Those vehicles should not convey
advertising messages that inevitably would also send the message that law enforcement
is for sale.


  1. Posted by Lindsey Imbs on February 6th, 2006

    It should be noted that Victor Adams, quoted above, does not use business practices that support American Troops.  Because he is not bound by the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Act, he does not make concessions for military personnel who are recalled to active duty and forced to relocate.  The only thing he cares about is that we pay the remainder of our contract (even if we’ve been paying every month, on time, for 2 years and only have 1 year left). 

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