major factor in upfitting today’s police vehicles is the abundance of equipment:
computers, radios, light/siren controllers, radar/lidar, license plate readers,
e-printers, in-car video, patrol rifle…the list keeps growing. Today’s police
cars have generally smaller interior space, so the concern is intensified by
departments that field two officer units. Other issues are where to deploy the
equipment so as not to interfere with the airbags, all the while being ergonomically
efficient and healthy.
Los Angeles Police Department has been one of the leaders in law-enforcement
vehicle upfitting. Vartan Yegiyan, LAPD’s Director of Police Transportation, and
Sergeant II Daniel Gomez, of the Information Technology Bureau of LAPD’s
Tactical Technical Section (TTS) are at the forefront of safe and productive
upfitting for the NextGen vehicles.
the past couple of years, the LAPD has worked with General Motors on a concept
interior touchscreen on a Chevrolet Caprice and Tahoe. Then they worked their
interior ergonomic magic with Chrysler on a Dodge Charger. Both these sedans
have the computer monitor neatly mounted in the center of the dash, well away
from the airbag deployment zones. Thus there are no sharp brackets or corners
to cause injury in the event of a collision. Additionally, the majority of the
police electronics are neatly mounted in the rear of the vehicle, freeing up
valuable interior room.
chose the Police Fleet Expo to unveil the technology buzz of the season: the
NextGen in-dash mounted screen in Ford’s Police Interceptor Sedan and Police
Interceptor Utility. This is LAPD’s vision of the future police vehicle, the
next step forward in police interiors and upfitting. The PFE attendees had the
clearance to work with the system, and talk with representatives from LAPD,
Havis and Ford.
more law enforcement devices added to smaller police vehicles, the in-dash
screen is a major upfit solution. The LAPD worked with Ford, Havis, Australia’s
National Safety Agency and Lectronix to jointly develop this solution. Officers
will have an integrated screen with touch controls for all of the upfitted
emergency and communication equipment.
design effort led Havis to make a dash molding that precisely and securely
wraps a Lectronix monitor. Computer Aided Design data from Ford allowed Havis
to use factory OEM mounting points for the screen’s location and all the
required fasteners. Lectronix custom software provides the technology to
complete the integration.
LAPD design puts an emphasis on officer safety and comfort, ergonomics (human
machine interface), saving interior space and technology integration. New
police car infrastructures demand the safe mounting and the easy use of
multiple radio connections, multiple video inputs, relocated HVAC and vehicle
controls, radar detection, ALPR systems, laptop-tablet computers, printers and
other upfitted enforcement gear.
with their previously upfitted Caprice, Tahoe and Charger, Yegiyan and Gomez
wanted an in-dash mounting of the computer screen, to reduce the clutter of the
police gear in the passenger compartment. This is for various reasons. First,
for the deployment of two-officer patrol units. Second, for officer safety in
case of a collision—the flush, in-dash computer installation provides fewer
sharp edges to injure the occupants.
to Yegiyan, the LAPD is “equipment agnostic,” meaning there is no loyalty to
any specific brand of equipment. In other words, they are free to choose any brand,
any make, and any model that best suits LAPD’s needs.
OE touchscreen on the Ford PI Sedan and Utility (and all the other NextGen
vehicles) is too small for law enforcement purposes. After a joint effort by LAPD,
Ford, Havis and Lectronix, a 12.1-inch, high-resolution touchscreen computer
monitor was neatly mounted in the dash. This replaced the OE screen without
modifying the dash. Thus, after the vehicle is removed from law enforcement
service, the touchscreen can remain in the vehicle or the OE screen remounted
in the dash.
touchscreen has a chemically strengthened glass face for durability and impact
resistance. The LCD screen is readable in bright sunlight conditions and can be
viewed by either the driver or passenger due to the 90-degree viewing angle.
The screen is optimized so the touchscreen will function with wet hands or if
the operator is wearing gloves. This equipment has been specifically designed
to survive in a rugged automotive environment and can survive in temperatures
between (-)5 deg F to 160 deg F.
majority of the computer equipment is mounted in the trunk, which frees up
much-needed interior room and simplifies repairs and maintenance. The tray on which
the equipment is mounted rolls out. This equipment is modular, meaning if a
problem develops, the offending module is replaced with a new or refurbished
unit and the vehicle placed back in service again. Like many departments, LAPD
removes spare tires from the trunk to free up trunk space. If a replacement
tire is needed, a repair truck can be quickly dispatched to change out the
Lectronix interface module prioritized the vehicle’s audio system—the AM/FM
radio and allows it be switched between the vehicle and police modes. The
module will plug directly into the OE Ford harness, simplifying upfitting as it
is “plug & play.”
most computer screens operate in “landscape” mode, this system operates in
portrait mode and the software has adapted the data to operate in this mode.
This system is designed so the important touchscreen controls, which are
essential during vehicle operation, such as radio frequency selection,
emergency lights and siren controls, are at the top of the screen. This
requires less eye movement between the driver’s view of the roadway and the
essential functions, such as running vehicle plates or internal e-mail are
controlled at the bottom of the screen. Additionally, the four mappable buttons
in the steering wheel can be adapted to assignable police functions. The
factory HVAC controls, airbag indicator light, and hazard flasher controls have
been removed and relocated to the rear of the center console. The revised panel
also has tactile controls, meaning they can be identified and operated by feel,
for system volume, power, and to black out the display.
mounted in the trunk is an on-board computer interface that can handle law
enforcement needs such as interfacing with forward-facing infrared, Automatic
License Plate Recognition, radar, GPS, emergency light and siren controls, and
the police computer, which can handle queries on individuals, vehicles,
property, report-writing software, and internal e-mail communications. This
system also allows Internet usage as it can connect to WiFi hotspots.
is adamant that all of the essential law enforcement controls be standardized
on all of LAPD’s vehicles, enabling an officer from the Harbor Division to jump
into a Northeast Division unit and have no problem in accessing essential
controls in stressful situations. Another nice touch is USB and 12-volt ports
are installed in the center console to allow officers to recharge their
personal electronic devices, like cell phones.
John L. Bellah is a retired corporal
from California State University, Long Beach Police Department. He is also
technical editor for Police
Fleet Manager Magazine and covers fleet
issues and vehicle testing of police vehicles. He can be contacted at email@example.com.