The “Thin Blue Line” is a 2004 Ford Crown Victoria with over 111,000 miles on it. It has worked for a living and survived high speed chases, countless emergency runs, jumped countless curbs and I’m sure, has been part of many arrests.
There is a term of endearment in Law Enforcement that is given to officers after they have worked for years earning the respect and trust of other officers and community members, they are known to “Have Whiskers”. These Officers have scrapes, bruises and other reminders of their loyalty and devotion to their communities and departments. I believe it is fitting that “The Thin Blue Line “memorial vehicle, much like the officer that drove her, has some scratches, dents and “Whiskers”.
On April 4th 2011 I had been asked by a long time friend of mine, Leonard Schrader, to accompany him to the 2011 Minnesota Chief of Police conference in St Cloud. Leonard is the owner of Schrader’s Code Three and he has been building emergency vehicles for 15 years. Since I had recently retired from a rewarding career in law enforcement, I thought it would be fun to see some of my old friends who may be attending the conference I agreed to attend.
During the late morning of the first day I was approached by two women who walked up to our display booth and were admiring the badges and light bars we had set up. They asked if we could sell them a light bar and I began to ask them questions about what they were intending to do with the equipment. At about this time Leonard returned to the booth and he recognized Christine Crittenden as the widow of Officer Richard Crittenden who had been killed in the line of duty on 9-7-2009. Her sister Sandy Salazar was at her side.
It seems that Christine had come into possession of her late husband’s police cruiser once it had been phased out by his agency. She was interested in building the car into a vehicle that could be used for parades and other community events and would remind people of the sacrifices law enforcement officers and their families make every day. At this moment I knew “The Thin Blue Line” project would be built and we were going to be part of it.
And So It Begins
The first step in building any police vehicle is to remove the seats and any other obstructions from inside the vehicle. At the top, Len is working at removing the driver’s seat. As with other older vehicles the seat bolts typically break off when they are removed and this car was no exception.
This photo shows Roger using a bucket of warm soapy water and brush to clean the floor in preparation of building the vehicle.
On 4-1-2011, after the inside of the vehicle was prepared, Len and Roger place the new light bar onto the roof of “The Thin Blue Line”. This was the moment that the sedan began its assignment as a memorial vehicle and new life was breathed into the car.
After the light bar had been installed, Len moves inside the car to install the center counsel and wire in the equipment. “The Thin Blue Line” is equipped with a siren for parade use and a light bar control head. We also chose speakers that are conducive to playing music during parades and it has a public address system.
Gabe works on installing a main power shut off switch. By installing a master switch in the car all powered accessories can be turned off when the car is not being used. This returned the cars electrical system to factory setting and prevents the cars battery from being drained.
Most police vehicles that are equipped with center counsels are not finished with oak covers on the storage compartments or the radio stack. In this case the only space that was used in the radio stack was for the siren and light control box so we thought we would dress the car up a bit. I made some custom oak panels and installed them in the car. We did decide to use the center panel in the radio stack for some other use and you will see that later.
Paul is working hard on installing the new Go Rhino push bumpers. These bumpers provide protection on law enforcement vehicles in the event of a crash and also will allow officers to push disabled vehicles out of harm’s way as needed.
Most of the front end of the vehicle must be removed in order to install the mounting brackets to the frame of the car. A strong mount means a safe piece of equipment
This is what all’s Paul’s hard work looks like when completed. These push bumpers also provide a very strong place to mount siren speakers and extra lights to the front of the vehicle.
When working with an older car you run into many problems you never have with a new vehicle. Here Paul and Gabe work at fixing electrical problems that prevent the back door from being unlocked. After some work we were able to get the door open and identify the bad electrical component.
Here Len is working at making final connections to power up the light bar for the first time. All the electrical connections and the control box for the light bar are located in the trunk. You can use the control box to choose from many different light patterns and in some cases you can change the color of the light bar. Once these choices are made the control box is sealed and the settings locked in.
This is a photo of the plaque that was made and mounted on the center council of “The Thin Blue Line” memorial vehicle. It shows Officer Richard Crittenden SR and with his badge and police motorcycle. We placed it in the vehicle as a reminder of who drove this vehicle everyday.
Custom flag holders were built and installed on the push pumpers of the car.
Here is the finished product. You can see the siren speaker, flag holders and the red, white and blue front LED lights mounted on the push bumper solid as a rock.
In mid-May we decided the paint on the car needed to be refreshed. The best place I know to have this done was Car Time in Dundas. Here their detail expert Josh has “The Thin Blue Line” in the detail shop. He completed cleaned and shampooed the car including the inside of the trunk. He also stripped off the old wax, buffed the entire car and re-waxed it. The car has a few miles on it but it looks great thanks to Josh and his hard work.
Once the flag stands were installed we had to try them out to see how they looked. This is the first time the flags were posted on the vehicle.