Trooper William Rials who was responsible for setting up the displays and
operation of the Safetyliner and then Governor John Swainson. The date on
the back of the photo is 1961 and the miniature car is a 1956-'57
Corvette. According to Mr. Rials the miniature Corvette was originally
a child's ride in the parade. It was changed to show police equipment used
in a patrol car.
Safetyliner display promoted various services that the Michigan State
Police provided. Mentioned are Criminal Investigations; Searches for Lost
Persons; Property Inspections; Arson Investigations; Blood Relays; Mercy
Missions and Under Water Recovery. The black box in the lower right
appears to be for viewing purposes. You can just make out some sort of
October, 2007 -- Officer
Rials submits the following recollection:
As a State
Police exhibit, the "Safetyliner" became an unofficial police
station. Probably the most potentially exciting event was when a boy from
the stable area that came rushing up to exclaim: "Come quick, they're
fighting with pitchforks in the stable!" I was thinking as I ran with
him to the stable area, "What the hell, a pitchfork is no match for a
.38 caliber Colt." But as usual, when we arrived there wasn't a soul
around and when we did locate people in the area no one knew anything.
This is usually the case. Fights really don't last too long, time wise.
At one time the weapons display on one side of the
State Police Safetyliner contained a Thompson sub-machine gun. All of the
weapons were wired to a proximity alarm. The alarm had a bell on it like
the old style bank alarm or school bell alarm which could be heard a mile
away. At the State Fair in Detroit I could stand on the far side of the
Safetyliner and watch the feet of the spectators on the side nearest the
guns. There were stanchions and ropes to keep them away, but by looking
beneath the Safetyliner I could see the feet of the potential miscreant,
first as he stepped beyond the line and then as he advanced toward the
guns. At this time I would go to the front of the Safetyliner, still on
the far side, and wait. It wouldn't be long before the bell would sound
its warning. Because the guns were located near the front, the miscreant
would run around the nearest corner which was the front. The look on his
face was something else. First, because he was so startled by the loudness
of the alarm and secondly to be greeted so quickly by me. I still laugh to
think of it.
For some reason, I don't know if it was just our unit
or typical of all of the Futurliners, there was a tendency to hydroplane.
It was a long hot summer with little rain and I was headed out north of
Detroit. It had rained just ahead of me and the pavement was wet. As I
approached a large intersection I lightly tapped the brake. The
Safetyliner's tail began to swing. The light was turning red as the
Safetyliner began its slide -- sliding through the intersection while I
battled to keep the nose ahead of the tail. This kind of excitement I did
not need! I lucked out as no one had jumped the light but even so I could
in my mind's eye see the headlines: "State Police Safetyliner kills
This tendency to hydroplane made a big difference in
driving style as I would fairly creep on snow or ice. In another instance
I was driving into a small town for their county fair. I guess the town
fathers wanted to show off because the street I was on had been freshly
paved. Again, approaching a stop sign I lightly tapped the brakes. Again
there was a loss of control and because of the crown of the roadway the
Safetyliner slid to the right and along the curb. Again, my luck held as
there was nothing parked along that section of the roadway.
Driving was always exciting and tiring. The noise level
was high and I would arrive whipped. It wasn't until I bought some ear
protection that things changed. What a difference!
During the first couple of years of operation, top
speed was about 41 mph, until I happened to talk to another Futurliner
driver who told me that there was a small transmission case located 2/3's
of the way to the back on the drive shaft that controlled the top speed.
Yippee! Highway speed increased to 60mph.
When we took delivery of the two Futurliners from GM it
was with one condition: That we never bring them back for repair or bother
the Tech Center with questions on their operation. Fair enough, but that
speed thing could have saved a lot of long hours.