Behind The Badge: Winnebago Sheriff’s Department Test Out ‘Ghost Graphics’


If you’ve driven in Winnebago County, you’ve likely come across traditional Winnebago County squad cars, but now there’s something else to look out for. The Sheriff’s Office is testing out ‘ghost graphics.’ They’re harder to see during day and night, unless light reflects off of them.

“When the light shines on them at night it turns white, bright white. When the light goes away it goes back to the non-reflective decals. It still shows it’s a fully marked Sheriff’s squad car, so it’s identifiable to the public, but at the same time it’s a little bit less profile,” said Winnebago County K-9 Deputy Eric Pearson.

They’re designed to make it easier to catch speeders and other criminals on the street, giving officers an extra advantage.

“It works out really good to our benefit if we’re doing a narcotics case and say we’re going around in a neighborhood, it gives us that one extra second before they notice us, so we can kind of see the behavior of that person and looking for that traffic violation,” he said.

For now only the K-9 units use them, including Deputy Pearson and his police dog Chico.

“Since the first two black cars that we had were the K-9 vehicles for the SUV’s, they wanted to see if they would prefer that, or the typical standard decals they use on the other cars.”

Pearson say being able to observe criminals, or traffic violators beforehand can go a long way in helping him determine the next step. 
“It doesn’t buy a whole lot of time, but those one to two seconds can be crucial.”

It’s a small change making an impact in an effort to catch lawbreakers and make the streets safer.

“We still want the public to see that we’re out there, that we’re patrolling to give that indication that we’re there. Plus, if someone would need help it’s easy to see it’s a marked vehicle, so they can flag us down and still get help.”

Other area departments, including the Belvidere Police Department, plan to use ‘ghost graphics’ on some of its vehicles as well.

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