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Hendon Publishing

Minimum Training for New Fleet Managers

The position of police fleet manager usually comes with a promotion. It is often a stepping stone as someone moves through the ranks. Yesterday, you were the sergeant on midnights and today you are the new fleet manager. Regardless of your previous experience or training, you are now responsible for maintaining a safe, functional and cost effective fleet.

For that, and right away, you will need training. Moreover, you will need networking. Don’t be intimidated about your new assignment. You may be better off than you think since you haven’t developed any bad fleet habits. The training may not be as formal as DHS training on handling a HazMat situation, but the training does need to happen. There is a lot to learn. Some of it will save your department money and some of it could possibly make you a hero.

From Day One, you need to reach out to those other fleet managers you already know. Many have been doing this for some time and they can share with you what secrets they have learned. There are online resources, such and Police Fleet Institute, which offer training and networking. Sites such as LinkedIn also provide an avenue of resources and groups from which you can draw knowledge.

Making a shameless plug here—you can get great training and even better contacts at one of the two annual Police Fleet Expos. Visiting one of these Expos, you will gain so much more than the educational content and can face time with the vendors on the show floor. The networking opportunities will be priceless and offer you far more than any structured course on fleet management. You will meet professional fleet managers, vendors, shop managers. 

When I took over as fleet manager for my agency, one of the first things that caught my attention as critically important was writing proper bid specs. In many small agencies, the same person who bids the backhoes, dump trucks and admin vehicles also bids the police vehicles. These obviously are not the same kind of vehicles and need different attention. 

By partnering with your municipal fleet person, you can absorb a lot of knowledge and become acquainted with the purchasing policies of your jurisdiction. Make sure you explore what others have bid before you reinvent the wheel. Though it varies by jurisdiction, many places will allow you to piggyback on either a state or other locality bid. This will save you a lot of time and generally a lot of money. 

Did you ever wonder if and where you were going to use that high school math? As a self-proclaimed businessman in government, I often felt there was a lot of arbitrary ways of getting things done. One such thing was the cycle with which police vehicles were rotated. Several years ago, I met a mathematics professor from Texas, Giant Aryani, from whom I learned the process of completing a lifecycle cost analysis.   

Intimidating at first, this process is the simple use of a spreadsheet and applying numbers that are typically available from your own files or wherever your vehicles are serviced. 

By applying this practice, you will put numbers on paper which will help you decide which police vehicles to buy and how long you should typically keep them assuring you get the most of the money you’re spending. You will be able to offer a business plan to your administrators and become the fiscal hero of your jurisdiction.

Finally, the biggest piece to your success in fleet management comes from your enjoyment of what you are undertaking. The only budget in a police department larger than fleet is personnel, which makes it a notable responsibility and in need of proper management. Using the training offered by such groups as Police Fleet Expo and Police Fleet Institute, your own networking, and a dash of the passion you have for law enforcement, you will be well on the road to success. 


Scott Coy, Police Fleet Expo Chair, was a lieutenant with the Western Michigan University Police Department. He brought the practice of private business into government as it pertained to his responsibilities at the department. This practice created a bar of fiscal responsibility not only in the management of his department’s fleet, which he had been doing since 2003, but has been shared via published articles and in person with several agencies. Scott was also responsible for all technology deployed at the department from radios to computers, whether it be in the patrol car or office. He can be reached at

Published in Police Fleet Manager, Mar/Apr 2014

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