MIAMI (WSVN) - When it comes to retired police cars, a story featured in 7 investigates is driving change in state law.
Last year, 7News spotted a black-and-white Crown Vic on the road.
It had “State of Florida” and “Emergency Call 911” markings on the side, but the man driving it was not a police officer.
Brian Entin, Nov. 2019: “Why do you have this car with the lights and state of Florida?”
Brian Entin: “Are you law enforcement?”
Man: “Security, security guard.”
When asked if he thought it was a police officer, a man in the shopping center said, “Yeah, at first glance, yeah, yeah. I would definitely think.”
Lawmakers want to make sure there’s no confusion moving forward.
State Sen. Annette Taddeo, D-Miami, said in May 2020 that “it was a loophole in the law, and we have fixed that loophole.”
Taddeo saw the 7News story and sponsored a bill requiring “decals, stickers, distinctive paint schemes, or other markings attached or applied to a police vehicle” be removed from cars prior to their sale.
Taddeo said in May, “We want to make sure that when people are being stopped by any car that has markings or any lights come on that you know it’s a real police officer.”
The bill passed unanimously through the Florida legislature. Saturday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed it into law.
While it’s not illegal to own old cop cars, state law did not say who was responsible for removing official markings prior the cars being sold.
As 7News discovered, some cars were slipping through the cracks.
Now, the responsibility will be on sellers like law enforcement agencies and auction companies to make sure all the markings are taken off.
Taddeo said, “So this is really a safety issue, this bill.”
In Florida, between 2014 and 2018, there were 489 arrests for impersonating an officer.
In April, a worst-case scenario unfolded in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Authorities say a man disguised as a police officer carried out a mass shooting, at one point using an old police cruiser purchased at auction to pull over and kill random drivers.
Taddeo said in May, “Very bad scenario, and I think that it proves that what some may think, ‘Oh, what is the big deal about this law?’ It actually can save lives.”
The law goes into effect July 1.
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