Rowan Sheriff’s vehicles recognized nationally

This Chevrolet Caprice from the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office was recently featured in a French police magazine.
This Chevrolet Caprice from the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office was recently featured in a French police magazine.

Rowan Sheriff’s Capt. Sam Towne estimates he looked through thousands of online photos of police vehicles before settling on the current design of the agency’s silver and blue vehicles. He never thought the design, which was a collaborative effort between him and a local design shop, would be featured in a French magazine.

The magazine, “Pro Sécurité,” featured in its May-June issue American law enforcement vehicles. The Rowan Sheriff’s office car was one of seven vehicles featured in the article. Photographer and writer Sabastien Fremont emailed Towne about using the photo he’d seen on the Yahoo photo sharing site, Flickr, in April. The article is about the new generation of law enforcement vehicles in the United States that are being used since Ford discontinued its Crown Victorias, which have been a popular law enforcement vehicle for decades.

Towne has been in charge of the patrol fleet since 2005. The fleet includes 125 vehicles. There are 27 vehicles that received the new design beginning in late 2011 and early 2012. Once older vehicles reach 125,000 miles or are in disrepair, they are taken out of rotation and new vehicles are purchased.

“It really makes you proud that other people find your cars appealing. We want taxpayers to be proud of the cars too,” Towne said.

The current design, which is essentially a silver car with blue letters outlined in white, is less expensive than the former red, white and blue vehicles. The blue lettering is also a safety feature since the letters are reflective at night.

“I came up with the design by looking at Flickr. I looked at 1,000 pictures,” Towne said.

He saw some designs that didn’t strike a chord with him and he wanted something different. His son had a baseball helmet with garnet lettering that was tweaked with a white outline and Towne immediately thought the white outline would work for the cars.

“It makes the blue stand out,” he said.

He worked on the design with Bill Fraley at Chapman Signs, located off Concord Road. The outcome of the cars was something the design team felt made the cars “original,” Towne said.

Towne took pictures of the silver and blue Chevrolet Caprice in downtown Gold Hill and other locations in the county, including Dan Nicholas Park. The pictures have now been shared around the world. The captain was also contacted by Sound Off Signal, a company that sells law enforcement vehicle lighting equipment, to use a sheriff’s cruiser in its 2013 calendar. The calendar has been shown at trade shows and expos across the country, Towne said.

The Rowan vehicle was entered into a Facebook competition and based upon the likes on the photo the picture was featured on the cover. The Rowan County Sheriff’s car has also been made into a large four foot display and is shown at the expos Sound Off Signal attends.

“I did it as a hobby,” Towne said of taking pictures of the vehicles.

He would take a picture of a vehicle in the fleet and send it to the dealer who sold the department the car or post the picture online. He’s proud the photos have been shared throughout the world.

Fremont, who is also contributing editor with another magazine, “Opérations Spéciales Magazine,” wrote an article a year ago about the challenges U.S. law enforcement agencies face with the outgoing Crown Victoria. He followed the previous article with the new fleet agencies are designing.

“Looking for new police patrol cars on the Internet, I found a photo showing the new Rowan County Sheriff’s Office Chevrolet Caprice, and I sent an email to the agency trying to get some high resolution photos I could publish in our magazine,” Fremont said via email.

Towne responded with a couple of photos. Fremont also contacted a number of other law enforcement agencies in order to get a number of vehicles with different markings. Fremont is a law enforcement equipment and agencies specialist in France. He’s also been to the U.S. numerous times since 1989 and has gone on ride-alongs with various law enforcement agencies.

This isn’t the first time a Rowan Sheriff’s car was featured in a magazine. In August 2011, a photograph Towne took of the silver and blue Caprice at Dan Nicholas Park was featured in “Law & Order” magazine. The vehicle was part of a contest that featured law enforcement vehicles from around the country. Rowan County was the first place winner for the eastern U.S. for the sheriff’s office category with an agency of more than 25 deputies.

Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: Facebook:

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