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Fleet Profile: Westerville, OH Police

Written by Robert Montgomery

Westerville, OH has a population of 37,000 and is central Ohio’s largest suburb. Joseph Morbitzer is the chief of police. The fleet manager is Officer Matt Ware, a 12-year veteran of law enforcement and fleet manager for five years. Fleet management is a sworn position. Fleet has an annual budget of $350K. Each year, $251K is spent on new vehicle purchases to include upfitting and new equipment for the units. The remainder of the budget is spent on vehicle maintenance and repair.

The police department has a total of 47 vehicles of which 20 are assigned to marked patrol. Ten vehicles are used for the community services bureau, which consists of DARE, Crime Prevention, School Resource Officers and Animal Control. The Detective Bureau has 14 vehicles assigned, and the department’s administration has three vehicles.

Westerville Police currently runs all Ford CVPIs in its fleet, however, they are in the process of purchasing three Dodge Chargers for evaluation. Two of the Chargers will be used as marked patrol units while the third will be assigned to the detective bureau. Westerville does not have motorcycles in its fleet. The agency has one panel van in its fleet that is used for special events and training scenarios within the department.

Westerville also runs a Ford Expedition for the supervisor’s vehicle. This unit has all the standard equipment that a regular patrol carries. The unit is also equipped with a custom designed storage cabinet for the rear cargo area. D&R Electronics from Bolton, Ontario, Canada, built the storage cabinet for Westerville PD. The cabinet carries additional forms, tools, ammunition, a duty handgun, a rifle and a shotgun. The vehicle also carries crime scene processing equipment. The concept behind the vehicle was to provide the first responding supervisors and officers the necessary additional equipment to handle most any situation until support units arrive such as SWAT or detectives.

The Westerville take-home policy applies only to the two K9 units. Two other units assigned to the chief of police and a DEA drug task force detective can also be taken home. The rest of the vehicles are used around the clock. Officers are assigned to units that they use each day on their shifts.

The Westerville Police Department uses city maintenance shops for its general repairs and preventive maintenance. The service department uses Faster by GCC for its fleet maintenance software for tracking the entire city fleet. City shops employ one supervisor with two full-time techs and one part-time tech. City shops handle the maintenance with the exception of warranty, transmission, alignments and major engine work.

Oil changes are set up on a 4,000-mile service interval. The police fleet manager personally checks each unit for mileage and takes marked units to the service department for scheduled preventive maintenance. Westerville uses NAPA for all its brake components and other parts for units out of factory warranty. Continental ContiProContact tires are used on police units along with the Firestone PV41 and Firehawk GT Pursuit tires.

All Westerville units are upfitted at Public Safety Concepts, located in Plain City, OH. Units are set up with the radio, light control and computer to run on constant battery. All other equipment is switched off with the ignition. With this setup, Westerville units still have to replace batteries every six to 12 months. Units are equipped with Pro-Guard center slide partitions and shotgun lock. One detective unit is equipped with a full dropdown screen for an unmarked transport unit.

Marked patrol units carry five 18-inch road cones, a box of flairs, a first-aid kit, and a fire extinguisher for safety. Additional equipment carried in the trunk includes crime-scene tape, a roller wheel, a lockout kit, assorted hand tools, stop sticks, a spare ballistic vest and a personal protection kit. The estimated weight of the equipment in the trunk is around 100 pounds.

Westerville outfits its units with Whelen lighting equipment from the Liberty LED lightbar to corner strobes and talon deck lighting. D&R Electronics is used for the center console and computer mounts in each unit. Other equipment used is Setina push bumpers, Havis trunk trays and Pro-Guard partitions. All units have two 100-watt speakers. Westerville uses an Integrian Digital Patroller digital camera system in each unit.

The biggest challenge for Westerville’s fleet is dealing with the receipt of new cars and the transition from the old to the new with minimal downtime. The dealerships that officers deal with have always been very receptive to their needs and worked with them to accept the trades after getting some of the new cars upfitted so that they are not running a bare bones fleet for any longer than absolutely necessary. The Westerville Police trade retired police units directly to the dealership to help offset the cost of vehicle purchases. Each year, Westerville purchases between five and 10 units, depending on the need of the department.

Officer Ware received his fleet management training from on-the-job experience. He has attended the Police Fleet Expo from its inception and has found it very beneficial to meet with others and share ideas, problems and solutions.

Ware would like to see manufactures expand on developing a better interface into the factory wiring harness to access light controls and triggers for items like in-car cameras and flashing lights. Development of the interfaces and expand wiring harnesses will assist in the upfitting of vehicles for a quicker turn-around time. Aftermarket manufactures need to work with the vehicle manufactures on this for the best results.

Lieutenant Robert Montgomery has been in law enforcement for the past 22 years. He is finishing his 16th year with the city of Duluth, GA Police Department where he has been the fleet manager for the past 10 years. He can be reached at rmontgomery@duluthpd.com.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Jul/Aug 2008

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