From camels to Commodores, a lot has changed in how Queensland Police have patrolled our sunny state. With all the talk about driverless cars and state of the art car technologies, we thought we would rewind the clock, by taking you for a drive down memory lane.
Here's a quick evolution of Queensland police on our roads:
The relationship between humans and horses have helped build civilizations for thousands of years, so it's only natural that these trusty steeds would be integral in the formation of our country's police forces. Since the Queensland Police Force was established in 1864, horses were the main form of transport for police in traversing this wide, brown land, and still continue to be in use today with the mounted police unit.
With most Australians living along the coast, it's sometimes hard to imagine that most of the country is covered by vast sandy deserts and rugged, rocky landscapes. Often inhospitable terrains, not exactly well suited to horses or vehicles. Thankfully for the Queensland Police, the camel proved to be an extremely useful mode of transportation, particularly in the west of the state. The Birdsville Police Station received 6 camels directly from India, sometime in the 1890's and continued to use them well into the 1930's.
In cities and towns, Queensland police all walked “the beat” until bicycles were issued in 1896, with a slow distribution rolled out across the state. The bicycle allowed officers to patrol a wider area and respond quicker than when on foot. At the time, a bicycle cost £13 which was actually more expensive than a horse.
Along with a healthy supply of horses, several camels, and a fleet of bicycles, the Queensland Police then finally became motorised with the purchase of three Harley Davidson motorcycles with attached sidecars in 1925. The motorcycles were used to great advantage by detectives to get to places not served by public transport.
With the proliferation of motor vehicles around the world throughout the 1920's, many hopeful salespeople tried to convince the Commissioner of Police, Patrick Short, to purchase a vehicle for use by the Force — all were politely refused with a hand written letter. That was until the early 1930’s, when the then Commissioner, William H. Ryan, embraced motorisation and approved the purchase of motorcycles and vehicles for use across the state.
While women had been working in the police force since 1931, the first uniformed female police officers were sworn in, in March 1965. Along with the modernisation of the workforce, twenty-one new Ford Cortina sedans were purchased for traffic work and many vehicles were fitted with two-way wireless radios.
By 1982, a heavy road toll on Queensland's roads brought about the creation of a new American-style highway patrol unit. The police force purchased fifty-three V8 Ford Falcons with long range radios, as well as eighty-four Yamaha road motorcycles, to help patrol the state's highways. The introduction of the iconic Aussie V8 started a decades long relationship for Queensland's and the nation's police forces.
The epic Ford vs. Holden rivalry also spilled into the choice of police patrol vehicles. With every new vehicle purchase, the question of Commodore or Falcon would inevitably come to the forefront. Queensland Police purchased ten Monaro CV8 Holden sedans with enough power and grunt to keep the roads and highways safe. The modern vehicles would also serve to house the new technologies being developed, such as the mobile automatic number plate recognition cameras.
Homegrown Holden and Ford vehicles have patrolled the states roads for decades, but following the shutdown of local manufacturing, Queensland police now have a new highway patrol vehicle, the Kia Stinger. The unlikely new official highway patrol car was rolled out in 2018, with fifty twin-turbocharged V6 Stingers replacing locally-built versions of the Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon. Apart from additional wiring for police equipment, the vehicle is a standard model but still met the forces' tough criteria.