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2014 Police Fleet Expo WEST

Written by Brad Brewer

The PoliceFleet Expo WEST in Kansas City, Mo. was a successful and informative fleet event. This year’s show had many newcomers as we welcomed Scott Coy as the new Chair of Police Fleet Expo. Scott continued the tradition of putting together exciting expos that specifically target police fleet managers, technicians, and the officers who drive the vehicles. Scott thanked Kansas City Police Department for their warm welcome and their tireless help to make this one of the best shows yet.

PFE West started out with an afternoon Ride & Drive track day at KCPD Academy Driving Course. Thanks to KCPD Sgt. Keith Ericsson and his staff, the event was a success despite the cold and rainy weather that day. Ford, GM and Dodge all loved the rain-soaked track as it provided some unique driving experiences that highlighted each vehicle’s driving dynamics. The success of the day was measured simply by the fact that the track was never silent with all three manufacturers putting attendees through non stop evaluation laps.

The attendees got to drive Ford’s recently introduced Police Interceptor Utility with the 3.5L (twin turbo) EcoBoost V6 engine previously available only in the Police Interceptor Sedan. There were lots of smiles as drivers got out after their hot laps in the 365hp pursuit-rated PI Utility.

GM had their all-new 2015 PPV Tahoe at the track and the lineups were long as attendees were ready to try the all-new pursuit capable SUV with almost everything completely redesigned for 2015. Many were very impressed with the significantly improved driving characteristics of the new Tahoe.

Dodge brought their all-new AWD Hemi Charger to track and it didn’t disappoint. One of the most popular rides of the track event was the Charger AWD and the rainy weather allowed Dodge to highlight just how good their new AWD Charger really is.

The Track event also had an emergency lighting demo from many of the top lighting vendors, while Zero Motorcycles offered attendees the chance to ride a completely emission-free motorcycle on a specific course just for motorcycles.

Manufacturer Sessions

On the first day of the educational sessions, attendees jumped in with the big three manufacturer sessions. Our friends from Chevrolet, Dodge and Ford all discussed their latest offerings, plus their newest safety and technology features for 2015.

Up first was Ford who announced two new engine options that were released in December of 2013. The 2.0L EcoBoost I4 in the non-pursuit rated sedan and the EcoBoost 3.5L in the Interceptor Utility. Government Sales Manager Tony Gratson explained that the 2.0 I4 is as a result of many customers needing a full-size non-pursuit rated sedan but still gets higher mpg figures. Ford wanted everyone to know that PI Utility sales are through the roof and far surpassing their expectations.

New from Ford for 2015, the A-pillar spotlight pre-drill from the factory is now an option for those who wish to install their own light. An 18-inch aluminum wheel for the street appearance command/admin vehicles, an all-new police seat material with revised foam padding, rear-quarter glass emergency light option, badge delete option, and now standard is the auto headlamps. The rear camera option is now standalone and not bundled with SYNC.

Dana Hammer from GM was excited to introduce the all-new PPV Tahoe, and by new GM means completely redesigned while keeping the same footprint on the road. All-new police specific suspension and driving dynamics allow for a significant improvement over the outgoing model. New for 2015 is the PPV 4WD pursuit-rated SUV. Slated for fall 2014 production, this will be the first 4WD pursuit rated SUV in the GM lineup.

GM also showcased their all-new SSV Silverado 1500 pickup at the track event. While not available for driving, attendees got to go inside and look at the new special purposed pickup designed specifically for law enforcement.

David Callery from Dodge showed the audience the picture of the all-new 2015 Charger. While sporting new front and rear fascia, the 2015 Charger will have a completely blacked-out front fascia. David went on to explain that not all the measurements are finalized and Dodge plans on having an upfit session with vendors to ensure it is ready before vehicles are delivered to customers. He further advised that Dodge will most likely do an extended 2014 Charger build process right through until late July and then start the 2015 builds sometime in October 2014.

New for Dodge is the industry’s first OEM “Secure Park” feature, which Dodge has standardized as a leader in this technology. Using buttons on the backside of the steering wheel, on both sides, the secure park can be activated by an officer in seconds and then deactivated automatically when the key fob is brought back into the vehicle. This system is well thought out and solves the issue of securing the Chargers.

Trade Show Highlights

The PFE expo hall had over 60 exhibits with bumper to bumper equipment for police vehicles. Here is just a tiny glimpse of the just announced or newly released products and services that fleet managers had two days to review.

Body Snare was new this year; still in the development stages, this new prisoner restraint product attaches to the rear quarter of the police vehicle. The suspect is then directed to lean against the device and the suspect pulls the belt out and clips himself in for a safe and secure officer safety pat-down.

A recent new provider to law enforcement, C-Tech, well known for their high-quality, custom storage solutions came to PFE with some innovative SUV storage solutions. The command/tactical storage cabinets or modular storage solutions are completely customizable to your agency’s needs and wants. Lightweight aluminum construction with their patented motion latch drawers make this product something to consider when upfitting your new PI Utility or PPV Tahoe.

Just out with their newly patented prisoner partition, Jotto Desk recognized the unused space readily available behind the front passenger seat and set about to design a partition to take advantage of this extra room. Initially released for the 2011 Dodge Charger, the patented design of the Space Creator partition did what no other partition design could do. It provided the maximum room for the driver, yet created room for a prisoner due to the Bidirectional Recessed Housing (BDRH). 

Ka-Comm introduced their new line of universal gun mounts, both in single and dual weapon configurations. These new long gun mounts can be configured with any weapon and installed in virtually any vehicle made today.

Lund Industries always provides a great display of their new products. This year, they brought their all-new Interceptor Sedan custom consoles that make maximum use of space while maintaining higher safety values. They also showed off the new innovative sedan trunk tray that fully folds down and creates a false wall behind the seat.

Lund also has the industry-only PASS® Police Audio-visual Safety System. Their specially designed and patented system encloses the siren speaker(s) in the upright of the bumper system, greatly improving sound on the ground plane in front of your vehicle. PASS® solves speaker mounting issues on new vehicles because the speaker is no longer mounted behind the bumper or fascia.

Westin Automotive is well known in the aftermarket truck accessory world, recently adding some new police product to their lineup. This show featured Westin’s new “Pit Bar Elite”—a full wraparound certified by major law enforcement agencies for PIT maneuvers. The Pit Bar Elite is easily bolted on to the Westin “Push Bumper Elite” to ensure you have a very robust solution for your fleet’s high-risk vehicles. The Westin pushbars all come with 2 or 4 LED lighting options.

Agency Roundtable

The PFE always has a big turnout for the Agency roundtable sessions. Here agencies are divided into three groups, less than 50 officers, 50 to 150 officers, and the largest at more than 150 officers. Moderated by law enforcement officers and fleet experts, these sessions are an extremely effective opportunity to share your concerns with other agencies your size. This year was unique as a common theme ran through all three groups: “What is everyone doing since we are three years past the death of the CVPI?”

It is interesting that no matter what size your agency is, everyone is still faced with making a vehicle selection based on the newer, smaller, more technically advanced vehicles. While safer and able to do so much more, these vehicle are getting smaller on the inside as law enforcement continues its demand to put more technology inside these new vehicles. It’s sessions like these that can save you months of research after listening to what others have tried, had success with, or failed completely with.

Educational Sessions

Past attendees spoke up and PFE listened to their feedback, which resulted in both new and returning favorite speakers. This started with a general session called Cop Tech. Capt. Matt Ayers provided a realistic dialogue on what’s going on in the upfit world around North America. One of Matt’s main points was that many in the Fleet business are still living with a “Crown Vic mentality.”

Matt’s presentation showed attendees that this mindset needs to be changed as we are now three years past the date the Crown Victoria stopped production. As Matt said, “All three police manufacturers make really good, safe products now, so we must ensure that as upfitters we don’t affect that vehicle safety with our upfitting.”

The encyclopedia of Fleet Management, Bill DeRousse was back again presenting Fleet Management 101. If you’re new to the fleet business, this is one session you need to attend. Attendees tapped into Bill’s decade of fleet experience using the latest software and fleet management systems. Bill is one of the best resources a new fleet manager could ever have, especially given how complex fleets are these days.

LAPD also attended this year’s show with a session on police vehicles of the future. Known for their forward thinking and pushing the envelope with in-vehicle technology, LAPD showed their current projects with in-dash mounted screens and ALPR. If you are looking to move forward with your agency’s mobile technology, this was one session worth staying for.

Probably the most highly anticipated session at every PFE is Tire Forensics. You would never know these two guys are competitors as Goodyear’s Rick Wendt and Bridgestone/Firestone’s TJ Tennant provided what many consider as the best-in-show technical tire session. The Rick & TJ Show provided no-nonsense look at police vehicle tires.

This interactive session cuts through all the misinformation as these two tire experts explained that low tire pressure is the number one killer of tires in any industry. Low pressure creates greater rolling resistance and that resistance causes heat, heat being one of the worst things for rubber.

Tennant also explained that there are only two manufacturers making police tires, real police tires. He explained that buying a V or W speed-rated performance tire doesn’t mean it is suitable for police. Firestone makes several versions of the Firehawk and Goodyear makes four versions of the Eagle RS-A that are sold to the public not just for police. You need to confirm you’re getting the police version because there are significant differences in the design of the police tire compared to the retail version. The police ‘specific’ tire can be identified by the proper SKU number; make sure you confirm it!

Once again, PFE was able to bring subject matter experts to one location, making them accessible to all law-enforcement fleet personnel. The education value alone makes attending this show more than worthwhile. This year’s PFE WEST was a success made so by the large number of attendees and the gracious hosts of the Kansas City Police Department.

Sergeant Brad Brewer is a 26-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 sgt1411@gmail.com.

Published in Police Fleet Manager, May/Jun 2014

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