Let me try to condense a week of solid fleet management and
fleet maintenance sessions and networking into one column. Along with Dallas
Police Fleet Manager Sgt. Steve Hoyer, I moderated the Large Agency Networking
session. This is an open forum, no rules discussion of whatever is on anyone’s
mind. At the Police Fleet Expo - Southwest, we break these networking sessions into Under
50 Vehicles, Between 50 and 150 Vehicles, and Over 150 Vehicles. Similar
experiences in similar fleets can be aired—and similar problems solved.
The single biggest problem is too much gear and too little
room for it. A companion problem is the difficulty of fully uniformed officers
getting into and out of the NextGen sedans. One of the fleet managers—in
obvious frustration—voiced that all of the NextGen sedans were simply too
small. That sentiment resounded—and led to unilateral, widespread praise for
the Chevy Tahoe PPV.
The Tahoe is off the radar when it comes to MSP and
LASD/LAPD vehicle tests. The only thing it excels at is…room. Its overall
performance is adequate; its full economy is adequate. However, it is
stand-alone when it comes to officer ergonomics, roominess and cargo capacity.
Due to its low maintenance cost, high residual value, and long service life,
the Tahoe has the lowest total lifecycle cost of any police package vehicle.
Push has come to shove when it comes to room for officers and cargo. For the
first time, many agencies are looking at crossovers and SUVs for the first
time. Don’t overlook the Tahoe.
From Ford, the Police Interceptor Sedan now comes standard
with the 3.7L V6 and AWD, the same driveline in the PI Utility. Together, these
two vehicles account for 53 percent of the police market.
From Chevrolet, the emphasis is that the size of the Caprice
and Tahoe matters. The Caprice now has a steering column (IP)-mounted gear
selector and larger seats. The current generation of Tahoe is ending—but Chevy
will build ahead while the 2015 Tahoe is being built.
From Dodge, All-Wheel
Drive will be a mid-year option on the 5.7L V8
Charger. The Charger also got a redesigned column (IP) shifter and a more
contoured police seat with extended seat belt receptacles.
Right-sizing police vehicles? Pick the smallest, most
economical vehicle that is actually needed for the task. Not every police
vehicle needs a fire-breathing V8. Refurbished vehicles? Yeah, you get about 60
percent of the promised new life. Not to mention just prolonging technical and
As fleet managers, we could probably use lifecycle costing
more than we do. This is a fiscally persuasive way to move the focus from
initial cost to total cost. It is as simple as initial cost plus upfitting cost
plus operating costs plus decommissioning costs minus residual value—all
divided by miles of service life. The math is not that hard and the facts are
Tablets in police vehicles? This is not the future, it is
the now. Android or Windows, the use of ruggedized tablets in the place of
laptops solve all kinds of ergonomics and cost problems. Many of your peers
have already gone to tablets.
Brake maintenance? All police (semi-metallic) brake pads
must be burnished before the vehicle is put back into service. Pedal pulsation
does not come from excessive heat warping the rotor. Rotors don’t warp—they
wear unevenly. The number one cause of this uneven wear is thickness variation
in the rotor. The number one cause of thickness variation is excessive lateral
runout in the rotor. You simply must dial-indicate the rotor after a brake job.
Year-end reports? We must know all of our operating costs,
document them, and pass them on to the decision makers. Knowing and being able
to fully explain them is the best defense to a cut budget. More than that!
Knowing your vehicle operating and total costs—and keeping them in line—is the
best defense against an even worse and increasingly frequent reality: