Ghost Police Car

Aberdeen Police Sgt. Christina Rick with one of Aberdeen's new "ghost" police cars. Although hard to see by day, the vehicle's markings are reflective and show up at night.

Police officers call them "ghost cars," and their stealth design definitely can haunt unsuspecting traffic violators.

"When they see it, people say, "Whoa, what was that? Was that a police car?” said Southern Pines Police Captain Charles Campbell.

’Tis. But unlike your normal unmarked patrol car, this one is fully marked. You just have a hard time seeing the low-profile police cars because they lack light bars atop the roof and they sport white reflective markings. Those markings blend in during the day with the white bodies but shine brightly at night.

The style is slowly being added to police department fleets across Moore County.

Aberdeen's patrol fleet currently has one "ghost car." Southern Pines has one patrol car, and is expecting to add a supervisor's vehicle in the coming weeks, and Pinehurst is adding two patrol supervisor vehicles to its fleet in the next week or so.

The key feature of all the "ghost" vehicles is the white, reflective graphics which blend into the white paint of the car, allowing the vehicle to be classified as a marked police vehicle, yet still blend in with regular traffic during the day.

Southern Pines was the first department to add such a vehicle. Capt. Charles Campbell said the cars are designed for traffic control, speed detection and to curb motor vehicle violations.

"It's not to trick anybody," Campbell said. "It's to heighten awareness. Everybody knows we have a car that they can't readily see, so they are slowing down because of that, and that is what we are trying to gain out of it."

All three departments have added the vehicles as the departments regularly purchase newer vehicles to replenish the fleet.

Pinehurst is the most recent department to add a "ghost vehicle." Pinehurst Deputy Chief Floyd Thomas said the department has the two vehicles now, but the new police markings must be added in the coming days.

"The plan is for the department to add three cars next year and to 'ghost' two of them and give them to the other two shift supervisors."

Thomas said he likes the new vehicles because they are harder for traffic violators to recognize in the daytime, but "light up like Christmas trees."

"The cars definitely have a different look," Thomas said.

Representatives from all three departments say that overall, feedback from residents have been mostly positive.

"When I was reviewing video there was someone who clearly said, "Well, I didn't know you were a police car," Aberdeen Police Chief Tim Wenzel said. "So it's effective and looks pretty cool."

Unless, of course, you are speeding and suddenly see a "ghost car" appear in your rear view mirror.

(27) comments

Raymond Moore

how much dose is cost for a goast car

Karen Bevan

If determent and public service are truly the goals, the sight of a marked police car always makes a driver slow down. To state that reflective graphics which blend into the white paint “allow” the vehicle to be classified as a marked police car illustrates the department’s intent to trap. The duplicity of Capt. Campbell’s statement itself is quite clear. How can you state that it is not an attempt to trick when the identifiable markings have been removed so an official car can’t be recognized? This is nothing more that PR justification and spin which continues to spread.

Frank Staples

For all the naysayers abounding here, let me assure you that Whispering Pines, Aberdeen , and Pinehurst all have ready reputations as speed traps. Whether that's good or bad, I'll leave up to you. I personally would like my police cars marked so I can readily identify them when I need one! SH, you are absolutely correct.

Chris Williams

I love the mindset of "if you are not speeding or breaking the law you have nothing to worry about". In Pinehurst that is not the case. For the record, I have never gotten a speeding ticket in the Village or anywhere else for that matter, and I pride myself on 30 years of law abiding and good driving. Bearing that in mind, I would love to know why myself and many, many others I know have been pulled over for very silly reasons and harassed on the side of the road for no reason. This only happens in Pinehurst, or maybe Whispering Pines. From walking home after dark to being pulled over to be told that I "looked like" I was about to breach the speed limit, and a list of other stupid reasons to be stopped. You can look through the Pilot's old articles and find several about this kind of behavior and NEVER see anything written about the other LEO's in surrounding towns. I support the police and live by the laws we have, but seriously do not stop me for no reason. The force is HUGE for a small town and all of that force is obsessed with traffic enforcement and ticketing.

Mike McLellan

I saw the vehicle over on Highway 5 yesterday. Cool looking car and the lettering is obvious from the side of the car. I'm thankful our LEO's are proud of their profession, the equipment they use & themselves. They have every right to be...Thanks!

Carl Danis

I did not realize that the traffic situation in Pinehurst was so bad, they needed to have "Ghost" police cars. Next thing they'll need is an armored vehicle and urban assault rifles. I am not sure how the money is allocated in Pinehurst, there is something wrong when we can get new "stelthy" police cars, but it takes over 20 years to get a street repaved.

Ann Hopkins

Maybe the "ghost cars" are for ghost officers because apparently no real live officer on the SPPD is going to do squat about the juvenile vandals who spray painted a gov't building in downtown. The dept was provided with video surveillance footage and names of some of the hoodlums. Oh, wait..... one of the parents is an attorney, so nothing is ever going to be done, although they've said that they are revisiting some old cases. I guess Casper is on the investigation.

Victor Weinrich

Somehow, we are now using stealth police cars "to heighten awareness". That sounds just a bit suspect to me. By that logic, perhaps having the invisibly labeled cars garaged would improve awareness even more. It will be interesting to see how the courts deal with tickets issued from them.

I'm also fascinated with the picture heading this article. I know its just a trick of perspective exaggerated by a camera held about a foot from the rear bumper of the car, but the vehicle appears to be either 7 feet high, or it is being shown by the world's tiniest police officer. That picture is more misleading than the ghost markings, or the rationalization for their existence.

drew ainslie

I grew up in Pinehurst and can testify to the fact that the police will ticket you for just about any infraction they can, including going 5-7 mph over the ridiculously low speed limit. Also, the cops I have had interaction with in Pinehurst have never conveyed any type of humanity or sense of humor, they didn't seem to care about building any rapport, they treated me as if I was a convict or something. And I've seen this happen to other people as well. There was ONE time (out of maybe 8 separate interactions) I was pulled over and the policeman was friendly. I can understand being a cop in Pinehurst would be pretty mundane seeing as how there is virtually no violent crime or even minor crime but the cops need to find something better to do with their time than harassing residents and visitors. Maybe working with kids or elderly, or some other type of community outreach would be a better use of time and resources. Aberdeen police are similarly asinine, but I'll give credit to SP cops, they are usually courteous and willing to actually talk to you like a human. The Pilot even ran a front page story a few years ago detailing how Pinehurst PD was cherry picking motorists coming from local bars and restaurants and following them home in the hope they committed any slight infraction so they could pull them over. Being a law enforcement officer is a noble profession when you make people's lives safer and easier, but bilking people over the tiniest of infractions isn't noble.

Frank Staples

On the off chance that I need a cop it sure would be nice if he or she arrived in a clearly marked vehicle...how do you go about flagging down a cop if you can't see the car is marked??

Johnny Appleseed

If you have major 'Interstate' type highways in your area then I would agree that "ghost cars" are a necessary enforcement tool. Small municipalities DO NOT need these types of vehicles. It's borderline entrapment. Marked patrol cars would easily suffice for the speed enforcement that is apparently running rampant in southern Moore County. Seems like the elected officials need to step in and pass judgement on the Chief's that are on board with this ridiculous idea of 'ghost cars'. Kinda foolish for them to allow to be interviewed and therefore scrutinized by the public over it. But then again, you have three police chief's (Aberdeen, Pinehurst, Southern Pines) that are not from this area who could basically care less.

RAY EVANS

Suppersready, bookman and bandi need to do their research instead of spewing off at the mouth. If your not speeding or breaking the law you have nothing to worry about in Aberdeen, Pinehurst, Southern Pines or anywhere in Moore County,. Im with fromrightfield, tmeo, fugitguy, and witness2 and say the men and woman of these departments do a fine job. Bookman your reading the wrong book, in NC municipalities do not get the fines from tickets, they only get $5 from each ticket which is paid. Do the math, if an officer makes $35k a year and all of his citations are paid (many are not) that one officer would have to write 7000 tickets just to pay his own salary not including benefits. As for these 5mph over tickets suppersready speaks of, I say prove it, as I have never heard of such a thing. In other words instead writing inflammatory and untrue remarks obey the law!

I'd be interested to know how much extra this costs per vehicle.

Sally Larson

"The key feature of all the "ghost" vehicles is the white, reflective graphics which blend into the white paint of the car, allowing the vehicle to be classified as a marked police vehicle, yet still blend in with regular traffic during the day."

You are trying to trick people, don't pretend you aren't. Identifiable police vehicles do make people slow down but it's evident you are trying to circumvent that ability by making yourselves invisible so you can trap more people.

Richard Wright

Those comments to Pinehurst being a speed trap are dated. Speeders are seldom cited unless they exceed 15 MPH over the posted speed limit. They may be stopped but a large majority get only a written or verbal warning.

Carol Wright

Boy, the public don't know what they want. I guess it depends on their personal preferences. I saw in the article about Voter Fraud arrest that officers should be spending their time stopping speeders instead of voter fraud. Guess it is a very thankless job. Law enforcement keeping doing your jobs as you do and let those who don't like it obey the laws.

Douglas Middaugh

Why would anyone stop at night for a ghost car behind them without the readily identifiable light bar? There are too many cases of crooks using dash mounted lights to stop cars. Does anyone think that they could make it to a PD and/or FD station with a ghost car behind them without the officer calling for backup and using spike strips to stop the motorist that was in fear for his/her life and simply taking long recommended action? This is just another $30K per car that the PD's could better spend.

Carl Danis

I'd be interested in knowing what percentage of the town revenues come from traffic citations. Both in Pinehurst and Whispering Pines.

Raymond Moore

me to

What a load of carp. I have driven through Pinehurst daily for > 20 years, never been stopped. I frequently drive 5mph over the limit.

Johnny Appleseed

"Representatives from all three departments say that overall, feedback from residents have been mostly positive."
...really?

john zatorski

So what's the problem? If your speeding in Pinehurst, slow down, enjoy the day. I rather doubt that you will get a ticket in Pinehurst if your doing 30 in 25 unless your on your cell phone, and not stopping at stop signs.

John Miller

Suppersready you hit the nail dead on the head for last 50years f my 63 Pinehurst has alway's been a speed trap if I thought I could get 60 minutes to come here I would,and if a town ever needed the Justice Department it's Pinehurst.

Chris Williams

Pinehurst PD will eat these up. Basically the whole Village is a speed trap, and 90% of the resources and time are focused on speeding tickets for that force. I was laughing out loud at a story in the other paper's website about the "Speeding Prevention Operation" they had yesterday in the Village. Funny because that is pretty much EVERY day for them. For a town with almost no violent crime and very little minor crime they have a very large force and a huge fleet of cars, yet always deny that they are obsessed with handing out traffic tickets. I would much rather they be patrolling the neighborhoods to deter any possible crime than sitting in hiding 24/7 waiting for somebody to go 30 in a 25 zone, which is now just about everywhere you go. Very common to see 2 patrol cars at one simple traffic stop. Small town + little crime + bored cops = traffic obsession.

Joel Smith

How much did they cost the taxpayers in Aberdeen? it would seem to be unfair to motorists to be unaware that the car behind them is a ghost car.

Raymond Moore

[tongue_smile] it is keeping u safe though

Chris Williams

Soooo for some reason it's better to hide and wait for people to break the law as opposed to being seen and deterring the breaking of laws. Not very logical.

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