2012, a major fleet operations hurdle was to overcome was the demise of the
Ford CVPI. The department needed to research and evaluate various vehicles to
determine what vehicle(s) would best suit the needs of the NHP. The NHP began
to closely examine the NextGen police package offerings. During this time, NHP
purchased the Ford PI Utility, the Ford PI Sedan, and the Chevrolet Caprice.
evaluation process involved a limited number of Command, Fleet and EVOC
personnel testing these vehicles on various tracks nationwide under varying
conditions. This information and experiences, along with data and information
from other law enforcement agencies, helped assist the process.
final selection boiled down to the crossover/SUV platform for various reasons
such as availability, versatility, performance, standardized replacement parts
between PI Sedan and PI Utility, and the fact other law enforcement agencies
had also tested the Ford Utility with positive feedback. All this was inline
with NHP’s plan to form a standardized fleet system whose equipment would be
recycled based on equipment life cycle.
the past, the NHP would lifecycle their vehicles strictly on accumulated mileage—sedans
at 105K miles, SUVs and trucks at 125K miles, and motorcycles at 50K miles.
Often these older vehicles were phased out of active service to serve as
spares, handle “people-moving” duties, serve as pool vehicles, used for EVOC training,
or other minor assignments. The end result was an “older” fleet with numerous high-mileage
Standardized Vehicle Builds
of the key issues NHP experienced prior to the business model change was
standardization in the vehicle builds and evaluation processes. While the NHP
used the Ford CVPI as their primary patrol vehicle, it also used Dodge
Chargers, Durangos, Chevrolet, and Ford trucks to name a few of the other
vehicles within their fleet.
Nevada Highway Patrol is divided into three regional commands within the state:
North, South and East. These three regional commands operated completely
independently from one another. In the past, each region retained its own
anonymity. Thus, a vehicle from one command may be upfitted and equipped
differently from the other two commands in the state. They were allowed to
build their vehicles based on their abilities and expectations with minimal
oversight by the Fleet Team.
instance, Southern Region vehicles were hand-wired, and connectors were of the crimped,
barrel-connector type. The Northern and Eastern Region’s vehicles were built
with aftermarket MNStar harnesses, which allows “plug & play” installation.
So if a Southern vehicle went to a Northern or Eastern Command, and had wiring
issues, troubleshooting of the problem usually led to many wasted hours and
lots of frustration due to the lack of standardization.
CHP Assembly Line
July 2012, NHP’s Fleet Team took the two-hour drive to the CHP Motor Transport
Division upfit facility outside Sacramento.
Upon arrival, the team met up with the Captain of Fleet Operations, the Shop
Operations Manager, and the Field Operations Manager who graciously provided
the Nevada team with a full-blown walk-through of CHP’s build facility. CHP’s
build process for their respective vehicles would make Henry Ford very
vehicle would roll through an assembly line equipped with eight separate
stations. As with any assembly line, each station was tasked with installing
their respective equipment, providing a sequential modular assembly process. Interestingly,
the CHP build facility created many of their own specialty items such as their
wiring harnesses with weather-pac connectors for a modular standardized build
while vehicles may have different equipment, depending on where it is assigned,
the wiring and connectors are identical—regardless of the type of vehicle or
where it is assigned. A recommendation to any smaller agency such as NHP looking
for improvements to a modular-style build process would be to take the time and
walk through this facility; it truly is breathtaking in efficiency and
the time of the NHP team’s visit, the CHP was in the process of building their
last remaining CVPIs and they were in the process of selecting their potential
new model vehicles. Additionally, the CHP
was in a purchasing freeze regarding new vehicles, which would eventually lead
to idle time for their vehicle build line. During the conversations with the
CHP’s fleet personnel, a discussion ensued about having Nevada’s new SUV’s
built on the CHP line during their idle period awaiting vehicles. This
conversation grew roots, and the practicality of the venture gained momentum
for multiple reasons.
of the reasons included a possible prototype to re-tool the CHP line for the
new Ford PI Utility. NHP’s Ford PI Utility would be a great tool for this
process. In comparison, Nevada’s vehicle builds are somewhat simpler compared
to the equipment and build process of CHP’s vehicles. Any jump on a learning
curve and research and planning would be beneficial to any agency, regardless. After
the last CVPI was upfitted, the CHP’s line would be idle, even after
maintenance and cleanup, until their new vehicles (Ford PI Utility) arrived.
Quick Turnaround Time
issue would be vehicle cycle and build times. Based on the past model of
laissez-faire or command demand, the new models of pre-, operational and post-operational
phases started to address older high-mileage vehicles sitting idle; however, it
did not address the issue of build times. To implement these models, NHP would
need an accelerated path for vehicles builds.
Working with the auditors, it was revealed Nevada had a cycle times from purchase to
deployment that were over a few months, a time period that was unacceptable to
a viable course of action with the support of California Highway Patrol, the
Nevada Fleet team pushed hard to obtain a build agreement with California. At various
times the agreement stalled at various points within both sides of the
respective State Government. The Fleet team diligently worked to smooth out these
October 2012, a formal agreement between Nevada
was approved by both governments. The final numbers of the agreement were for 70
vehicles to be completely outfitted. On the day the agreement was approved,
Nevada delivered the vehicles, which had so far been delivered by Ford.
the time of delivery, California
was in the process of re-tooling and conducting other builds. Despite this, coupled with the upcoming
holidays, the NHP vehicles began to be upfitted in mid-December. Eventually, 63
vehicles had been built by CHP for Nevada.
assistance, the Nevada Fleet team is meeting or has met many of its projective goals,
objectives and/or taken corrective actions for many of the issues identified
within the audit. Moreover, the bonds built between the two departments will
last and grow, both at a personal and professional level. The experience gained
from the Nevada team is exponential, items such as simplified wiring,
large-scale logistics, and standardization of build procedures.
NHP will be starting the evaluation process of the new Dodge Charger All-Wheel Drive
as they become available. With the Ford announcement that the PI Utility will
be available with the 3.5L EcoBoost V6, the NHP will also look at that more
powerful vehicle. NHP has leaned the fleet out to a reasonable level,
implemented the phases as outlined, and now are conducting maintenance work to
better streamline their internal operations based on all the culture changes
that have been implemented.
Lt. Charles E. Powell is the
Fleet and Radio Commander for the Nevada Highway Patrol. Powell holds a
Bachelor of Science degree from the University Nevada, Reno in Information
Systems. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Bellah retired from California State University, Long Beach Police
Department with the rank of corporal. He can be reached at email@example.com.