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Police send mixed messages with high-speed pursuit cars | comment

Do Police send mixed messages about safe driving by having high-performance patrol cars?

Another week, another high-powered V8 joins a highway patrol unit, ostensibly to help keep our roads safer.

Maybe the safety boffins should change their catchcry to "speed thrills".

Hot on the heels of Australia's fastest cop car — a twin-turbo V8 Mercedes-Benz GLE63 SUV provided to Victoria Police — comes a Lexus RC F V8 coupe that joins NSW Police to "promote road safety".

Someone may need to tell our law enforcement officials about mixed messages.

Using a V8 with police stripes to promote road safety is a bit like promoting gun control with a .44 Magnum. The Mercedes-Benz can reach the speed limit in 4.2 seconds, while the Lexus puts out 351kW.

Highway patrol police are busily shopping around for a new V8 muscle car

This focus flies in the face of recent changes in police pursuit policy around Australia.

In Victoria, police have scaled back pursuits, which had risen from 900 a year in 2012 to 1700 in 2014, the year in which two people were killed and 13 civilians injured in chases.

Tasmania and Queensland have scaled back on authorised pursuits. In NSW — where the pursuit policy is five years old — highway patrol police are busily shopping around for a new V8 muscle car to chase the bad guys.

Ford's V8 Mustang recently failed a "simulated pursuit" on test because the transmission overheated after two laps. Ford described the test as "extreme".

The safety authorities' mantra is "speed kills" yet they are promoting speed machines and evaluating them for patrols.

The irony appears to be lost on senior Victorian policeman Doug Fryer, who thought it appropriate to link Australia's fastest cop car with a lecture on buying the safest car possible.

The assistant commissioner said people needed to "prioritise safety over leather seats and shiny wheels". He said nothing about prioritising safety over a 4.2-second sprint to 100km/h.

There are enough people out there who think Highway Patrol officers are simply hoons with badges — why fan the flames by buying hot rods?