HUNTERSVILLE – The police cruiser appears set for duty.
With “Huntersville Police” clearly posted on the side, “www.huntersvillepd.org” across the rear bumper and the department’s signature motto “Honor, Professionalism, Dedication” spelled out behind the right rear tire, patrol car 301 would be a common sight in Birkdale or Bryton.
But Blackpool? As in the Blackpool, Lancashire and Lytham St. Annes area along the west coast of England near the Irish Sea? Well, as it turns out, absolutely.
A recent email sent “across the pond” by a Lancashire bartender named Ashley Rolinson indicates that the clearly marked and seemingly fit-for-duty patrol car has become quite the attraction. In his email, Rolinson wrote:
“It’s nice to see your police serving and protecting on this side of the pond, this is one of about 5 Huntersville police cars around Blackpool and Lytham St Annes on sea. no one seems to know whether they are filming here (Blackpool and St Annes and Lytham are known for filming (movies) like Miss Peregrines Home for Wayward Children, Eaten by Lions and other movies) or whether it was part of a show. And this hasn’t been in the Blackpool evening gazette or the Lancashire evening post so it’s a bit of a mystery.
Anyhow, Huntersville police force are now famous around here, lol. (considering no one had heard of you guys before as it’s a bit far away) anyway there ya go, a little light hearted news for you from us Sandgrown'uns.”
Mystery (partially) solved
After some basic investigation – including discovering that Sandgrown’uns is how many residents of Blackpool and the seaside region around it proudly describe themselves – it appears the mysterious vehicle is, very likely, a former HPD patrol car.
Interim HPD Chief Bence Hoyle said his department has been aware of the vehicle for several months. Hoyle said an initial review raised concerns that a vendor who purchased used vehicles from the department several years ago failed to remove the lettering and striping on the cars – a clearly-stated condition of the transaction.
But a deeper analysis showed that the car in the photo Hoyle saw – and apparently the same photo Rolinson sent with his email – was damaged a few years ago.
“The car, 301, was involved in an on-duty accident,” Hoyle said, “and the insurance company totaled it. They wrote us a check and took possession. It was their car, but I guess somehow they let it go with the striping and markings still in place.”
Holye said members of his department have been in contact with law enforcement officials in England and he said everyone involved agrees that the vehicle is probably being used in the production of a movie or television show.
“The most important thing is, it’s not being used to impersonate police in any way,” Hoyle said, explaining English police cars have completely different color schemes and markings. “Our conclusion is it’s being used in a movie, so it’s really kind of a neat thing, but normally, removing the lettering and striping would be something we’d expect to be done.”
As far as Rolinson’s statement about seeing multiple cars with similar markings, Hoyle said he doubts that is the case.
“We think it’s just one car, the one involved in the accident,” he said. “They could be seeing the same car in various places, and it’s also really not that difficult to mimic the wording and striping if they have the model to follow.
“But based on our records, it’s just the one car.”
Hoyle said he has had several conversations with officers and others in England about the HPD-logo’ed vehicle, and he joked that he tells them it’s the department’s effort to boost tourism and economic development.
“When they ask about Huntersville, I tell them it’s a great place and they should visit sometime,” Hoyle said.
And in reference to the role the former HPD patrol car could be playing in a Blackpool-based production, Hoyle said he’ll keep a close watch on coming attractions.
“I’ve yet to see one of our cars in a movie,” he said. “I think that would be fun.”