For some reason, this has been bugging me for years: Why do police cars have such small hubcaps? Check it out sometime.
All the cop cars I've seen, both here and elsewhere, have these little discs that cover the axle but don't go out to
the rim. - Curious George
There are a number of theories, many of them spurious, about diminutive hubcaps on constabulary vehicles.
One of those theories holds that small hubcaps are more difficult to steal, thus thwarting punks seeking a thrill of
filching from a law-enforcement vehicle.
It's nonsense, of course. Small hubcaps can be removed just as easily as their larger brethren.
I've had to change a flat tire on our cruisers, and the smaller hubcaps just pop off like a regular one," said Sgt.
Geary Parsons of the Durango Police Department.
Another theory involves bystander safety.
According to a dubious story posted online, there was a high-speed police chase in Philadelphia in the 1970s.
Allegedly, a pursuing police cruiser screeched around a corner and its wheel hit the curb.
The hubcap flew off and became a deadly Frisbee. The airborne accessory struck a pedestrian and took 'em out right
there on the sidewalk.
Philly allegedly had to fork over millions to settle the lawsuit, and since that time, the only hubcaps on police
vehicles have been very small (just to cover the hub and not the entire wheel) so they are less likely to fly off and
kill someone," claimed someone named SR" posting online.
Action Line spent well more than six minutes trying to verify this story to no avail. Something about this explanation
sends the Bull-O-Meter into the red zone, not the least of which is the fact that the story is posted on an unmoderated
However, there is the smallest grain of fact.
When drivers (police or civilian) take a corner quickly, the tire rims can and do flex, and hubcaps can and do
A smaller hubcap has far less area, so theoretically it should be more secure on the wheel.
But if police wanted to eliminate the risk of hubcap fatalities, wouldn't you eliminate the hubcap altogether?
That narrows it down to two other explanations, both of which are far more reasonable.
It's just the way Ford puts them out," Sgt. Parsons speculated. It's part of the package of a police-equipped car,"
he said of the Crown Victoria model, which is the standard for cruisers.
Action Line called Ford on Friday to verify, but the folks who know the most about police fleets were in Las Vegas
unveiling the cool new 2011 Police Interceptor Crown Vic.
By all descriptions, the new Interceptor seems to be a formidable vehicle. It features a 3.5-liter V6 twin turbo
engine, a host of electronic safety alert systems, electronic stability controls and even anti-stab plates on the back
of the front seats.
But the description for the news media and specifications said nothing about hubcaps. Not that hubcaps are a vital tool
in the fight against crime.
Another factor in the favor of smaller hubcaps: They cost less. Which seems like the most reasonable explanation of
Considering our municipal budget situation, it's safe to say there won't be chrome spinners on Durango cruisers anytime
E-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org
or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 81301. You can request anonymity if you
the Ides of March.