At the 2011 Police Fleet Expo (PFE) in St. Louis, Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford had their latest police vehicles on display. Dozens of aftermarket police accessory manufacturers from all across the country were in attendance.
Over 650 law enforcement officials from the United States and Canada including state police, highway patrol, sheriff and police departments attended the four-day event as well.
All of that made the Ninth Police Fleet Expo a huge success—the most successful to date—a record attendance, many relevant educational sessions, and an exhibit hall full of police vehicles and aftermarket upfitting products and services. This year’s PFE saw the introduction of some exciting new products. Most importantly, the big three automakers brought final production versions of all of their next-generation police vehicles. A few concept police vehicles were on hand as well.
At this year’s show, Chevrolet displayed their 2011 Caprice PPV Patrol vehicle, 2012 Impala 9C1 and 2011 Tahoe PPV, as well as the new Volt electric vehicle and a Silverado 1500 Hybrid work truck. Dodge showed off their new 2011 Charger Pursuit, brand-new 2011 Ram 1500 Special Service Vehicle and the Dodge Durango Concept police vehicle. Ford had their 2013 sedan Police Interceptor and 2013 Ford Utility Police Interceptor, as well as an F150 SuperCrew work truck. Also on display this year, for the first time ever, the pursuit-capable Victory Police Motorcycle.
The PFE exhibit hall was made up of the most significant police equipment manufacturers, including St. Louis’ own Code 3 Public Safety Equipment. Also exhibiting were Adamson Industries, Setina Manufacturing, Havis, Lund Industries, Nova Electronics, Pro-gard, SoundOff Signal, Whelen Engineering and Harley Davidson.
Seventy-five exhibitors showed all types of police-related equipment and services, including lightbars, sirens, push bumpers, prisoner partitions, mobile computing, radar, in-car cameras, e-ticketing devices, automated license plate readers, fleet maintenance products, mounting systems for computers and firearms, and pursuit tires, brakes and rotors, in addition to universal wiring harnesses.
Exhibitors came to get feedback from police fleet managers, chiefs and patrol officers on future products, needs and solutions. Attendees came to see the latest in police products and services, making this a two-way dialogue. Medium to Large Agency Session
The PFE always starts with the Agency Dialogue sessions. Agencies are divided into three groups based on agency and fleet size to openly network with issues they have in common. As expected, the first hot topic revolved around what everyone is doing about the end of the Ford CVPI production and future purchases of the NextGen police vehicles. Across the U.S. many of the large-volume Ford dealers who carry large fleet contracts have stockpiled CVPIs for sale well into next year. Some fleet managers are still cautious and are taking a “wait-and-see” approach. On the other hand, just as many were anxious to move to the new technology.
The new GM Caprice has been ordered by a couple agencies and some have been delivered to the dock in California. One agency in Texas reported a base-vehicle fleet price of $24,900. Everyone will have to consider their state pricing concessions when determining specific pricing.
One of the more interesting service discussions revolved around the ability to stretch service intervals with the newer engines, oil-life monitoring systems and better lubricants. One agency reported they are now doing 21K-mile oil change intervals and 10K-mile filter changes with their Ford CVPIs. In the interest of safety, this department still does a 3,000-mile safety check, adds a quart of oil, pulls all four tires, and checks brakes. Full synthetic oil and premium filters are used. The oil was tested at an independent facility and the results showed this interval could even be stretched further. These longer intervals are resulting in huge savings for agencies. Manufacturer Sessions
Dana Hammer, GM’s Law Enforcement Program Manager presented the 2012 GM Police program and specifically, the 2012 Caprice. The big change for 2012 is the economical 301 hp, 3.6L SIDI V6 will be the standard, and the 355 hp, 6.0L V8 is a no-charge option.
The 2012 Caprice will continue to have the offset, side-shifter, mounted on the console. Based on feedback from fleet managers who sat in the fully upfitted Caprice in the exhibit hall, the police-specific floor shifter is a non-issue. Hammer clearly stated that GM Fleet has no plans at this time to move the shifter to the column shift.
On the issue of parts availability with a vehicle built in Australia, Hammer explained that dealer techs are familiar with Caprice components because the systems in the PPV models are currently in use with other GM retail products. Parts are also common across many GM products so parts are readily available. Production of the 2012 Caprice with the new 3.6L V6 starts in December 2011, with delivery in April 2012. Hammer also urged fleet managers to allow a 16- to 20-week order to delivery time from Australia. Ford Motor Company
The last of the Ford CVPIs for the North American market was built on Aug. 31, 2011. The 2013 Sedan Police Interceptor Sedan and Utility Police Interceptor order guides and price sheets are out. Federal agencies can order the new 2013 Sedan PI and Utility PI on the 2012 GSA.
Ford personnel emphasized that while the Sedan PI and Utility PI have the same sheet metal as the Taurus and Explorer, that is where the similarity ends. These are carefully engineered police package vehicles with many unique parts, and not just rebadged or de-contented retail vehicles. Ford’s Police Product Marketing Manager Lisa Teed explained that the legroom in the Sedan PI is actually greater than the CVPI. And the Sedan PI trunk volume is calculated with the full size spare mounted below a flat load floor. Chrysler Group
Mary Jaye, Senior Manager of Chrysler Government Sales, said Chrysler has completely paid off all U.S. and Canadian debt from the restructuring. Their commitment to law enforcement is full steam ahead with the new Charger, just-announced Ram Special Service package, and their Durango Concept police vehicle.
Chrysler reiterated the benefits of the all-new 2012 Charger Police vehicle, especially increased visibility and the more powerful, more economical Pentastar V6. All factory upfits take place at Crown North America, part of the Brampton Assembly Plant, which includes Mopar parts and accessories.
A first at this year’s show, Chrysler had a Durango AWD Concept police vehicle as well as the Ram 1500 4x4 CrewCab Special Service vehicle. Dodge Fleet actively pursued comments from fleet managers on what modifications these vehicles need to meet police tasks.
George Bomanski, National Service Advisor for Police, explained Chrysler’s service-issue resolution process. To improve police customer communications, Bomanski asked fleet managers to consider him the single point of contact for all Chrysler law enforcement service-related issues. He will initiate contact with the engineers, track the issues, and follow up with the customers. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Upfitting and the Officer’s Office
Randy Frieburger gave an update on the new Police Interceptor Modifier’s Guide, and indicated that customers will have much more than they had with the CVPI Guide. The Modifier’s Guide will be available in mid-October to coincide with upcoming upfitters’ measuring session.
Ford has scheduled an aftermarket-vendor measuring session planned for two days in October 2011. Also for service technician training, an on-site, two-day, instructor-led tech training session for both of the new Police Interceptors is coming in the First Quarter of 2012. There is no new testing equipment required for these new Police Interceptors.
Lee Calkins with Crown North America spoke about their upfitting work with Chrysler at the Canadian plant where the Charger is built. Dodge Charger upfit packages are similar to Ford with several levels of equipment offered. Calkins emphasized that safety requirements for police vehicles are federally mandated and in most cases, law enforcement must comply to ensure officer safety.
As examples, FMVSS 111 (rear view visibility) and FMVSS 201 (impact inside the interior) are a heads-up to upfitters—they should be cautious modifying any interior trim pieces. Removing trim or modifying trim can affect the occupant safety. FMVSS 208 speaks directly to the protection of occupants in crashes, airbags, seatbelts. If an agency is considering reusing an old partition, then they should reconsider because of the side impact airbags. There are some after-market equipment suppliers developing partition upgrade kits for transitioning older cages to new police vehicles.
Alyson Kaczanowski and Tom Spence with Kerr Industries, GM’s OE factory upfitter, explained their upfitting options. This takes place at or near the actual production facilities (Arlington, Texas – Tahoe; Oshawa, Ontario – Impala; San Francisco port of entry – Caprice). Each agency will need to get the final pricing from their individual dealer. Their components and installations all meet OE automotive standards for quality. Police Tire Workshop
One of the most talked-about sessions of the entire Expo was the Police Tire Workshop. Rick Wendt of Goodyear and T.J. Tennant of Bridgestone-Firestone dazzled the audience with their unique and entertaining style of presenting information.
Air pressure is the most important thing to remember. Low pressure results in hotter tires and greater roll resistance. Most tires lose a pound per month through normal evaporation and every 10-degree F temperature drop. Under-inflated tires significantly increase wear, so a 10 percent underinflated tire will wear 40 percent faster. Tires that are under inflated as little as 20 percent are at risk of being damaged internally.
On the hotly debated topic of repairs versus replacing punctured pursuit tires, Tennant reminded everyone that it is OK to repair a police tire but only under certain conditions: 1) only if the puncture is in the tread area; 2) only if the puncture its less than one-fourth inch in diameter; 3) only one repair per tire; and most importantly, 4) only if proper materials and repair procedures are used.
Tennent specifically recommended that agencies move the repaired pursuit tire to administrative vehicle use instead of patrol vehicle use. Tennent reminded everyone with the new AWD vehicles it is imperative that tire changes are done by following the OEM-recommended rotation procedure. Significantly, there can be no more than 5 percent difference in tread wear between any of the tire. Otherwise, the difference in tire diameter will affect the traction control, ABS and stability control and put extra strain on the differential. Exhibitor Showcase
Hundreds of police products and services were on display or open for discussion during the two days of the Exhibit Hall. And this included all NextGen police vehicles, special service vehicles and concept vehicles. The PFE Exhibit Hall was also the setting for newly introduced police products.
One of the more interesting of these was the Adamson Industries’ CVPI Seat Replacement Kit. This is a complete retro-fit CVPI OEM seat kit in a box with upgraded seat cushions and lumber support. We all know how quickly the OEM CVPI driver’s seat support breaks down especially if your vehicles are “hot-seated.” This kit is a complete OEM replacement that is more durable than the OEM version. Cooled and heated versions of the seat are options.
Again this year, MNStar-Warnock Fleet showed off their Technology Vehicle, designed and built by MNStar’s Joe Nutt. Every year this project pushes the boundaries and builds upon their annual efforts to integrate existing products and emerging technologies, making officers better informed and safer. Completely integrated into the Rockwell Collins iForce Consolidated Control System, Nutt has added all of the latest technologies.
New in emergency vehicle lighting was a vast array of cutting-edge products including the Nova 10 Series LED Lightbar. This features a new design with the unique optics of Nova’s LED modules with each module featuring four, 1-watt LEDs for very high-intensity warning and low amp draw.
SoundOff Signal brought their new warning system, the APEX LED lightbar. The unique wing-shaped design provides never-before-seen aerodynamic performance, which translates into significant fuel savings. The revolutionary Intersector 180-degree mirror light was also prominent among cutting-edge products.
Code 3 PSE introduced their new Z3 Siren, designed to be easy to program, easy to install, easy to maintain, and especially easy for the officer to use. Key to this new siren controller is the three distinct zones for ease of use without the officer taking his eyes off the road.
Jotto Desk just released an all-new 2011 Dodge Charger prisoner partition. This has been specially designed for maximum officer leg room, long gun mounting up front, and easy prisoner ingress-egress, all while remaining side airbag compliant.
Digital Ally introduced the all-new DVM-100 In-Car Video System. This system is incorporated into the vehicle’s rear view mirror system to maximize ease of use while staying within space limitations. Sergeant Brad Brewer is a 22-year member of the Vancouver Police Department. He sits on the Ford Police Advisory Board and regularly gives presentations at law enforcement conferences on mobile computing, wireless technology and police vehicle ergonomics. He can be reached at email@example.com.