Ford aims to make cop cars safer for perps

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The back seat of a police car isn’t the most comfortable place to be, but Ford is looking at ways to at least make the journey to booking safer.

A Ford patent application published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on Nov. 16 (and originally filed in 2022), describes an airbag system for the rear seats of police cars. Airbags would deploy from the bulkhead that separates the rear part of the cabin from the front, not unlike the way conventional front airbags deploy from a vehicle’s steering wheel and dashboard.

Ford police car airbag patent image

Ford police car airbag patent image

Partitions separating the cops in the front seats from the detainees in the rear seats are a standard part of the conversion from civilian vehicles into police cars. That means Ford’s proposed solution wouldn’t involve adding police-specific components unless cars are actually destined for law-enforcement duty.

New cars already have airbags to protect rear-seat occupants, but they deploy from the sides rather than the front. Ford has also filed two patent applications for roof-mounted airbags that would drop down in front of rear-seat occupants, or potentially even surround them, but the company hasn’t given any indication of production plans.

Ford police car airbag patent image

Ford police car airbag patent image

It’s also unclear if Ford’s police car airbag will reach production, but it would certainly fit in with the automaker’s brisk cop-car business. The Ford Crown Victoria was once the default U.S. police car, and Ford has managed to maintain much of that business with today’s Explorer-based Police Interceptor Utility.

Ford also sells a police version of the F-150, which earned the title of quickest police vehicle in a 2021 Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) test with a 0-60 mph time of 5.9 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 14.44 seconds at 98.19 mph. Ford has also supplied Mustang Mach-E cop cars to the New York Police Department.