Sergeant James Post
SUMMER SPECIALS (AND IT AIN’T ICE CREAM)
Nat King Cole once sang about “Those Lazy-Hazy-Crazy Days of Summer,” but who would have guessed that the new “lazy” is because of the never-ending COVID-19 lockdown and the new “hazy” is the tear gas and arson smoke hanging over almost every major American city?
My job as a columnist for this magazine is to report on the latest LE vehicles and equipment and those of you who have followed my columns for the last two decades know that I do not hesitate to report on both the good and the bad without favoritism…my conscience (and especially my appreciation of cops) prohibits me from doing otherwise. But, first…
The last six months have been the most frustrating and infuriating period in my three quarters of a century on this rock. As a retired American police officer, I’m pissed. I’m pissed about a lethal virus and the CCP officials who covered up its initial outbreak and allowed it to spread around the globe. I’m pissed about all of the conflicting and slanted media reports and politics involved in finding a cure for this virus. I’m pissed about DC politicians’ apparent lack of concern and empathy for the families of the many thousands of good Americans who have perished from this disease. And last, but certainly not least, I’m pissed because the pent-up emotions of the lockdown, combined with unemployment and the death of George Floyd, have been misappropriated by domestic terrorists and anarchists to create the perfect storm of protest which ultimately mutated into complete and utter chaos from sea to shining sea. This has now become all about, and directed towards, America’s most dedicated public servants – the POLICE. Officers have been ambushed, assaulted, injured, blinded, murdered, and subjected to a never ceasing barrage of insults; dosed with all manner of bodily fluids and flammable liquids; and attacked with lasers, rocks, bricks, frozen water bottles, explosives, vehicles, and more – and all the while with little or no support from many elected officials. The police are blamed, criticized and threatened with defunding and even complete elimination. Officers who have provided a thin blue line of protection for our country’s most cherished residents – our children – have been removed from schools. Crucial SWAT and anticrime units have been disbanded. Nonlethal techniques and tools have been taken away and officers’ disciplinary records made public.
And, if you think what we’ve seen in the last two months has been Americans innocently expressing their constitutional right to free speech in “peaceful protests,” your head is in the sand. All of this has been nothing more than an excuse for criminals (of all races) to loot, burn, and murder at will, with little or no consequences, and with a not so hidden agenda of erasing America’s history.
I used to think I’d never see anything worse than what I experienced in 27 years on the job – from sniper fire and watching my beloved city burn in 1968, to seeing returning heroic, battle worn soldiers being spat upon and called “baby killers,” to witnessing man’s inhumanity towards adults and children without respect or care for the lives or the property of others, plus a multitude of other visions which still wake me in the night. But, all this pales to what invades my living room every night in living color. At least, in 1968, we were never ordered to “stand down” and we never lost a police precinct.
Okay, I’ve vented and now I will get to why we are here. A
While there has not been much good news so far in 2020, there is some news to report from the folks who build our police cars and equipment. As we’ve reported, while some plants and factories were shuttered because of COVID concerns, others switched gears to build PPE and many have continued to design and build products to make your officers’ jobs safer and more efficient.
Production of the eagerly anticipated 2021 Tahoe LE vehicles will soon resume in their Arlington, TX, assembly plant and dealers are taking orders as we speak. The start was delayed by a couple of factors. The primary reason was a strike by the UAW last fall which The New York Times reported “cost GM an estimated $1.75 billion and their ability to fill orders for about 5,000 vehicles.” The strike also affected numerous GM suppliers and vendors and their employees.
The Arlington plant builds both LE and civilian Tahoes and, before 2021 production could begin, after the strike, the plant was closed for extensive retooling for the all-new models. Following you will find some of what you can expect in the next generation Tahoe.
As in the past, there are two law enforcement packages: the Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV), designed for high speeds, and the Special Service Vehicle (SSV) which is designed for off-road and towing needs. Both will be powered by the reliable 5.3L V-8 backed with a ten-speed automatic. The engine features Dynamic Fuel Management (DFM) which enables it to operate in up to 18 different cylinder patterns (with as few as two cylinders) to optimize power delivery and efficiency. The DFM controller calculates the number of cylinders needed as many as 80 times per second! The PPV is offered in 2WD and 4WD, while the SSV is exclusively 4WD.
Both packages feature Tahoe’s completely new larger design platform which offers class-leading interior space. They provide 70.3 cubic feet of cargo volume behind the second row seat which is 18.3 cubic feet more than the largest SUV competitor. Rear door openings are now 13% wider (3.5 inches) than before to ease prisoner loading or K-9 partners’ access.
Both units have numerous standard safety features, including larger brakes with Automatic Emergency Braking and Front Pedestrian Braking, plus an HD Rear Vision Camera, Rear Park Assist, Forward Collision Alert, Lane Keep Assist with Lane Departure Warning, and a Following Distance Indicator. Your officers will appreciate the police specific front seats which provide additional hip room, allowing duty belts to fit more comfortably.
One last note on Chevrolet: If you have 2020 Silverado trucks in your fleet, you may have missed a recall notice released during the nationwide COVID lockdown. Issued in March, the recall concerns bolts which attach the front and/or rear brake calipers which may not have been heat treated and could break under load.
Hagerty Insurance Media reported that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and Peugeot Société Anonyme (PSA) Group (which merged in December 2019) have selected a name for their parent corporation – Stellantis which is rooted in the Latin verb “stello” meaning “to brighten with stars.” The move is largely a symbolic and logistical one. Corporate housekeeping means FCA and PSA makes and vehicles will retain their current branding, leaving Stellantis Group as the umbrella for the two conglomerates.
So, how does all of this impact you? Actually, very little…the Dodge and RAM® brands will remain the same and the Charger, Durango and RAM LE packages are still viable options for your fleet and Charger remains the only choice available for agencies requiring a V-8 four-door police sedan. While the 2020 vehicles are basically carryover models, rumors of significant changes in the 2021 model year have been floated about, but there are no firm announcements from FCA/PSA and it has been reported that the COVID shutdown may have impacted deliveries of the 2020 models.
As we reported earlier, COVID-19 caused factory closings and the halt of Interceptor Utility production; however, Ford kept one plant open to manufacture PPE – primarily ventilators.
With COVID a primary concern, Ford engineers have also developed a technique for the Interceptor Utilities to “self-disinfect” and neutralize the COVID-19 virus. Using a new heat software solution which temporarily raises interior temperatures beyond 133 degrees for 15 minutes, studies conducted by Ohio State University (using Interceptors from the NYPD and the LAPD and others) inactivated the virus by 99%. This solution is available now for all 2013-2019 Interceptor Utilities and is meant to supplement CDC cleaning/disinfecting recommendations. This system can disinfect vehicles prior to (or after) shifts, or any time they may have been contaminated. In some situations, heat can be more effective than disinfectants because it reaches all touch points and heat has the ability to seep into crevices and hard to reach areas which may have been missed with routine cleaning.
A key point to remember is that the vehicle doesn’t have to be taken out of service (or relocated to a service facility) for a lengthy period. After heating, the system automatically switches to a cooldown process to return the temperature to normal. Throughout the process, officers can monitor the status by a preset series of flashing hazard lights and taillights. Large departments with their own service centers can install the software solution using their existing diagnostic tools, while dealers can perform the process on smaller fleets.
PI Utility Hybrids
There has been a continuing thread of information about departments who have purchased the 2020 PI Utility Hybrids. The Massachusetts State Police added 161 units to their annual purchase of 350 vehicles for frontline patrol duties. The Tacoma, WA, Police Department purchased 59 Utility Hybrids in a first step to transition the entire fleet to hybrids over the next seven years. And, on July 22, 2020, Government Fleet reported that every NYPD purchase this year has been a hybrid, for a total of 409 units, a combination of Utility and Responder sedans. With the new hybrids, the NYPD will have 2,199 alternative fuel vehicles on the road working to comply with NYC Executive Order 54 which calls for a transition to all electric by 2040.
Certainly not your uncle’s police car, Teslas are being slowly integrated into some police fleets across the country. The first reported was the Fremont, CA, Police Department which happens to be the home of the Tesla factory. In 2018, they purchased a used 2014 Tesla Model S as a pilot program and they have reported 40-50% of battery life after a normal shift, while praising performance.
In late 2019, the Westport, CT, Police Department purchased a 2020 Tesla Model 3 for patrol duties. Government Fleet reported that “Police Chief Kosinkas was primarily impressed by the Model 3’s performance, five-star crash rating and collision avoidance technology and the agency expects to save $11,000 in maintenance and $13,770 in fuel over the first three years.”
Also in 2019, Bargersville, IN, purchased five Tesla Model 3s for their police department. Although substantially more expensive than the Dodge Charger, the city expects to save $6,000 a year in fuel costs alone.
Earlier this year, the Fremont PD Tesla made national news when it nearly ran out of power during a freeway chase. The driver realized he was running out of battery power (six miles left) and asked others to take over for him so he could find a charging station. But, the equipment was not at fault…a CSI-grade investigation revealed it had not been charged at the end of the previous shift.
Following is the latest news from popular vehicle equipment manufacturers.
Havis recently announced their Next Gen K-9 Transport designed to maximize comfort and space for police dogs in the PI Utility and other LE SUVs and trucks. It features a rattle eliminating design; a sliding front door (with numerous locking points); a low floor for ease of entry and egress; and a durable, flat rubber mat. It is available in a black or white smooth powder coat finish on heavy-duty aluminum.
Jotto Desk is a leading manufacturer of consoles, mounts and weapon racks. They have announced the new Mamba Mount, the most deployable laptop mount on the market, designed with the bare minimum of action needed for an officer to utilize their laptop. It has five points of adjustment, including a 110 degree Motion Arm and a 90 degree adjustable tilt/swivel assembly. The unique swivel/slide design allows you to position your laptop in three positions: Store & Drive, Park & Work and Tactically Safe which can be used while standing outside and behind the passenger door.
Setina Mfg. has recently announced the availability of all their police vehicle products for the newly designed 2021 Chevy Tahoe. These include push bumpers, partitions, transport seating, firearms mounting equipment, window barriers, and more.
Setina is among the oldest push bar manufacturers in the United States. They have recently debuted their new Police Bike Rack which temporarily mounts to their push bumpers without tools and will transport two bicycles. The main advantage of this new bike rack is that it makes it possible to transport police bikes quickly and easily, without having to pile them into the back of a patrol vehicle. Initially, I did have a few concerns regarding this bike rack. However, a quick call has answered these concerns. For example, it is my understanding that the front mounted bicycle(s) will not obstruct the driver’s frontal vision. Furthermore, there is little danger of the bike shaking loose during transport, as it features a positive locking system which utilizes heavy-duty (thick) strapping which stays in place. As far as the danger of frontal impacts, this folding mount is a quick and temporary solution to transporting bikes and is intended to simply go from point A to point B.
SoundOff Signal’s new nFUSE® exterior lightbar is a full-size unit which is bright, durable and competitively priced, enabling departments to experience multicolor benefits at an entry level cost. At a 1.9″ slim profile, and available in 36″ to 72″ lengths, they offer single or dual color modules and replaceable lenses in four colors. They offer over 50 flash patterns, including cruise mode, takedown and alley, plus directional arrows.
TruckVault has developed the new UAV Command Center at the request of agencies which wanted a secure in-vehicle storage solution for drones, keeping them ready for quick deployment. The cabinet is designed for vented storage of the aircraft, batteries, monitors, cameras, and other drone-related gear. They also offer a dedicated power source.
I would be remiss if I didn’t include vital officer safety news in this article. The FBI recently issued a bulletin regarding marked and unmarked take-home vehicles. Officers have been followed home and at least one shot at while off-duty. Three take-home units have been torched in officers’ driveways. Militant groups have been observed cruising residential neighborhoods looking for officers’ homes with marked and unmarked units and even marking the pavement with statements like “pig lives here.” These militants have recently even taken their “peaceful” protests to LE members’ homes.
I have written extensively about take-home units and I won’t repeat everything now, but I will just offer a couple of tips. Of course, the simplest solution is not to drive a police car home and instead carpool with other cops in POVs. Obviously, many rapid response assignments like SWAT and K-9 require take-home units, so they are best stashed out of sight in a garage or even under a car cover. If you are off for a number of days, the unit should be left at a police facility. Vary your routes to and from work; always check your “six”; drive by your home a couple of times; check the sides and front of your home before getting out; and take your weapons and gear with you. Remember, you signed up for all the bullshit and danger…however, your family didn’t. Lastly, I know your breaks nowadays are too short and infrequent, but, before you return to the chaos, be cautious. There have been documented reports of employees at Starbucks and Dunkin’® Donuts spitting in officers’ drinks before placing on the lids. Years ago, an officer I worked with was eating at a restaurant and recognized the fry cook as someone he had arrested, so he took the top bun off his burger and he discovered the “secret sauce” was mixed with small broken glass particles. Of course, when these SOBs are discovered, they are terminated and prosecuted, but a couple of seconds of prevention could save you from disease or worse…open those lids, look inside your sandwiches and please take care.
Sergeant James Post always appreciates your comments, suggestions and ideas. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.