Waikato police prepared to catch drivers with ‘secret’ unmarked cars

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Words: Matthew Hansen
27 Nov 2020

Police in Waikato have a new secret weapon in the form of a new set of unmarked police cars from an unconfirmed make and model.

Speaking to Stuff, Road policing manager Inspector Jeff Penno would not confirm the make or model of the new fleet of cop cars used in the area, stipulating only that they’re SUVs. Penno also wouldn’t confirm how many of the vehicles the Waikato police have or whether there are multiple colours.

Going on the imagery attached to Stuff’s story, I believe Holden’s mid-size SUV — the Equinox — is the vehicle in question. It’s set to be the fourth model in Holden’s line-up to be used in police duty, behind the Commodore, a handful of Cruze models, and the Acadia. The news follows this week’s confirmation that Skoda is set to replace Holden in 2021; a fleet of Superb station wagons set to appear around the country in police attire from next April. 

It’s hoped that the more-undercover-than-normal undercover vehicles will help local police nab speeders and distracted drivers with more efficiency — at least while the model remains a secret. The Waikato region was picked specifically as the first place to get these vehicles due to its poor road toll statistics.

“We know our enforcement is up [and] we know we are doing the right kind of enforcement. We know all our deployment is evidence based, and we know that our serious injury crashes are down seven per cent,” Penno told Stuff.

“Every indication is going the right way, except our fatalities, and it’s devastating. A small change in speed makes a big difference to injury severity in a crash – for you and everyone else involved.”

While the national road toll is down year-to-date (288 deaths versus 306 deaths this time last year), Waikato is currently eight deaths up on where it was last November. It’s not the only stat bucking the trend, either. As reported in August, the amount of speeding tickets issued in 2020 has actually increased over 2019, despite two national Covid-19 lockdowns.

“One third of our crashes are mistakes - we are human, we make mistakes. [...] The speed factor in that is critical and possibly contributes to those people losing their lives,” Penno added. “These roads were never designed to keep up with the cars we put down them. [...] Every trip is going to take twice as long as normal so factor that and plan your breaks.”

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