Citizens need to be able to tell, at a quick glance, that a person in a police car is who they claim to be. Because scam artists can be extremely thorough in faking police imagery, it is sometimes difficult to determine who is an actual officer, and such information is important to encourage real law enforcement to be done by genuine sources. The custom vehicle wraps that these departments use should be iconic and hard to duplicate, so criminals can't easily fool the public.
An indelible logo could apply to a variety of different surfaces, from cars to uniforms to email insignias. NJ Advance Media has reported on a Bronx man named Michael Colon who put imitation police lights on his car and attempted to pull over the driver of a Honda SUV. The real police later apprehended Colon and found he had a forged permit in his vehicle as well as an emblem in the windshield in the style of a badge.
In Lincolnshire, UK, this kind of fraud has been taken even further, with fake messages being sent to locals via mobile phone that pretend to be from the authorities. These messages are actually a form of malware in disguise and make use of the official local police logo to try and seem legitimate. This was enough of a threat that the department had to release a statement warning residents about it, according to the Grimsby Telegraph.
"Lincolnshire Police would like to make clear that any communication of this kind is most definitely not a legitimate message from the Force, nor will we ever contact you in such a way," a spokesperson for the department said.
This means that police outfits that take their time creating a logo that is difficult to copy, in a vinyl car wrap or other form, could save themselves and their communities some trouble.