Why Are Police Cars Black & White

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For years, people have identified police officers by their signature black-and-white police cars, but why do they follow this color scheme? There are actually a few different reasons for the paint job.

1 Visibility

Squad car
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The primary reason for the black-and-white color scheme of police cars is their visibility. Studies have shown that the alternation of light and dark colors increase the visibility of the vehicle in both high and low lighting.

2 Morale

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Another major reason for the color scheme is the pride associated with the identification of the two colors. Due to the common usage of the colors from almost all departments in the United States, it brings forth the commonality of a brotherhood in law enforcement.

3 Standing Out

Police siren
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The black-and white-color scheme began in the 1950s. Prior to the paint job, the police used solid black cars. Some departments added a white stripe to this to make it stand out, but it was ultimately thought to appear too much like other civilian cars.

4 Solid Colors

White police car
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In the 1990s, many police agencies switched their color schemes to solid white, blue or green colors. This was done as a way to save money, as budgets were getting tighter. Police emblems were embellished as a way to make the cars more distinct from civilian cars.

5 Back in Black and White

Squad car
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In the mid-2000s, departments began shifting back to the black-and-white paint jobs. Surveys of both officers and civilians have shown that the black-and-white color scheme is more favorable, accessible and identifiable.

Dustin Graham is a freelance writer from Portland, ME. He enjoys writing on a wide variety of topics and has publications on eHow.com. Graham is the creator and writer for the Counterpunching.com weekly tennis magazine. He is currently a Media Studies major at the University of Southern Maine.