Sergeant James Post
P&SN presents its 23rd annual report on the latest technical advances in police vehicles, components and aftermarket equipment.
The year 2020 has been one of the most significant in the last century for all Americans and not in a good way. The United States has been attacked with a virus which, in nine months as I write this, has infected 7.8 million Americans and killed over 215,000 souls (with similar results worldwide). This pandemic has closed millions of American businesses and put their employees out of work; schools have been closed; it has caused months of confinement at home for most of us; and, to date, there is no cure.
The single largest group of Americans impacted has been American law enforcement because, like other first responders, they went to work every day, were exposed to the virus, and many were infected. As if this hazardous duty wasn’t enough, riots, looting and arsons (described as peaceful protests) have been raging in major American cities for months. Assaults, ambushes, attacks, and murders of police officers are on track to set a new record while homicide rates in major cities have quadrupled, primarily in the inner cities. Cries of “defunding” police resonate through militant groups and some cities have already done so – or are considering it. Anti-police sentiment has resulted in retirements and resignations across this country. The NYPD alone has lost over 2,000 members and at least 19 major cities are without chiefs.
COVID-19 has also had an impact on our ability to research this annual feature for you. Most vehicle and equipment factories in North America were closed, while others switched gears to manufacture much needed PPE. This created delays in production and delivery of vehicles and gear. Important national LE expos across the country (where new vehicles and equipment are traditionally unveiled) were cancelled or presented virtually and the eagerly anticipated annual Michigan State Police Vehicle Tests were postponed and, finally, conducted with no attendees permitted. There were no motorcycle tests done at all.
We have assembled this report with the information available to us and is arranged with vehicle information first, followed by new equipment.
MICHIGAN STATE POLICE 2021 VEHICLE TESTS
There are two police vehicle tests conducted every year – the Michigan State Police (MSP) and the Los Angeles County Sheriff Department (LASD). The oldest is MSP, dating back to the 1950s, while the LASD tests began in 1974. Both evaluations are extensive and conducted by LE professionals. The results are eagerly anticipated by departments and fleet managers coast to coast because they create the criteria for determining pursuit-rated vehicles versus service vehicles and classify those tested accordingly. Generally speaking, departments west of the Rockies tend to favor the LASD tests, while the rest of the country prefers the MSP tests, although both evaluations feature similar elements and many LE representatives attend both. At the conclusion of the tests, results are published on the two agencies’ Web sites.
The Michigan State Police 2021 Vehicle Acceleration, Top Speed and Braking Tests were conducted on October 10, 2020, at the Chelsea (Chrysler) Proving Grounds, Chelsea, MI, which is one of three such Chrysler facilities in the United States. The LASD tests are conducted at the Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, CA.
American manufacturers submitted ten 2021 MY vehicles to MSP for this annual evaluation. Chevrolet provided two Tahoes – the 5.3L V-8 RWD Police Pursuit Vehicle (PPV) and the 5.3L V-8 4WD Special Service Vehicle (SSV). Dodge® supplied four vehicles – two Charger Pursuits, a 5.7L V-8 RWD and a 3.6L V-6 AWD, and two Durango Pursuits (both in AWD), a 5.7L V-8 and a 3.6L V-6. The field was rounded out by Ford’s four entries – three AWD Police Interceptor® Utilities (PIU), the base 3.3L AWD, the 3.0L EcoBoost® AWD and the 5.7L Hybrid AWD. Also tested was Ford’s 3.5L EcoBoost F-150 Police Responder® truck. (Although the F-150 truck’s results were recorded, they are not factored into our report.)
2021 Acceleration and Top Speed Summary
These are always the tests most anticipated by cops, troopers and deputies – those of us who “feel the need for speed.” Everyone crowds against the guardrails of the oval and the straightaway guardrails while the MSP Precision Driving Team hammers down and shows no mercy. To slightly misquote Robert Duval, “There’s nothing like the smell of burning rubber in the morning!”
So, let’s get right to the first question everyone asks, “Who was the fastest?” Once again this year, at 148 mph, the title goes to Ford’s PIU 3.0L EcoBoost. Tied for second at 140 mph were the two Charger Pursuits, both the six and the HEMI®. The third fastest speeds were a tie, recorded by both the PIU Hybrid and the base PIU at 136 mph.
There was another two-way tie of note: The RWD Tahoe PPV tied with the Durango Pursuit V-8 AWD at a respectable 130 mph, while the V-6 Durango was two miles slower at 128 mph. The slowest top speed recorded was 125 mph by the 4WD Tahoe SSV, still faster than any posted speed limit in the US.
The acceleration tests are different, but just as much of an important consideration as top speed because they represent the time it takes an operator to reach a particular speed. In drag racing terminology, this is the “fastest off the line.” This is particularly significant for state troopers catching violators from a standing start. These are recorded in seconds.
Starting at 0-20 mph, speeds are electronically recorded in ten mile per hour increments from 0-100 mph. Although these times can vary somewhat by gear ratios (if purchasers have that option), we always look closely at 0-60 mph, as that is generally considered the time needed to merge into traffic lanes from the bottom of an on-ramp. The best 0-60 mph time of 5.75 seconds was recorded by the EcoBoost PIU, followed closely by the HEMI Charger at 5.91 seconds. Everyone else ranged from seven to eight seconds, with the HEMI Durango next at 7.01 seconds. The slowest time (8.80 seconds) was recorded by the V-6 Durango.
The next criteria we look at is the distance to reach 100 miles per hour because, if you haven’t at least gotten close enough to the violator to read the rear tag, it may be time to call for air support. These are recorded in miles. Two vehicles were tied for the shortest distance of 0.24 miles, the HEMI RWD Charger and the EcoBoost Utility. Next was the Utility Hybrid at 0.30 miles and right on its rear fascia was the AWD Charger at 0.31 miles. (If they weren’t tested separately, I’d swear the Mopar® was drafting the Ford!)
The distance to reach top speed is also recorded, but you have to take into consideration that the top speeds of the vehicles tested varied by 23 miles per hour and most were computer limited. For example, the slowest top speed (125 mph) recorded by the 4WD SSV Tahoe also set the record for reaching that speed in 1.06 miles, whereas the fastest vehicle (148 mph), the EcoBoost Utility, took 1.24 miles to top out.
2021 Braking Summary
We all realize that braking is as important a consideration as acceleration, particularly as the popular LE SUVs grow bigger and heavier. Since I have been on the street and since the advent of ABS, four-wheel disc brakes and many other improvements, police vehicle braking has improved immensely, much to the pleasure of insurance companies, fleet body shops and bosses.
The braking tests conducted by the MSP are an average of three 0-60 miles per hour and are reported as Projected Stopping Distances from 60 mph. These are reported in feet.
The best projected stopping distance was posted by the base PI Utility at 126.60 feet. Next was the 4WD Tahoe at 127.10 feet. In third place was the Charger 3.6L. It’s important to note that two of these vehicles were AWD and the other was 4WD. This is another consideration for you when selecting fleet vehicles, in addition to their superior winter characteristics. Although Chrysler has made vast improvements in their braking systems, the worst projected stopping distance was set by their V-6 Durango.
Production of 2021 police package vehicles was delayed by shuttered factories and prepping them (prior to reopening) to address social distancing and other COVID-19 concerns. There were also labor issues at both Ford’s Chicago plant and Chevrolet’s Arlington plant. Any automotive plant closing naturally has a trickle-down effect on suppliers. As far as we know, all factories are back up to strength.
Production of the eagerly anticipated redesigned 2021 Tahoe LE vehicles has resumed in their Arlington, TX, assembly plant and dealers are taking orders as we speak, with delivery expected in the first quarter of 2021. The start-up was delayed by a couple of factors. Primary was a strike by 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 and COVID compliance.
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 are 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. The rear door openings are now 13% (3.5 inches) wider than before to ease prisoner loading and rapid K-9 entry/exit.
Both models have numerous standard safety features, including larger brakes with Automatic Emergency Braking and Front Pedestrian Braking, plus 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 utility belts to fit more comfortably.
While the 2021 Silverado SSV is basically a carryover model, it does offer several new mechanical and technical upgrades. The most noticeable change is the optional Multi-Flex tailgate borrowed from their GMC cousin. This offers six different tailgate positions to facilitate loading and unloading. With a cost of over a grand, it remains to be seen if this option is too expensive for police fleets. However, the new enhanced trailer technology will be welcomed with open arms. It includes a Trailer Length Indicator which is activated by turn signals. The Jack-Knife Alert tracks the position of the trailer in relation to the vehicle and alerts if in a potential jackknife situation.
One of the most exciting features of the new Silverado is their enhanced camera system, first available on 2020 models and now vastly improved. I’m sure that, while on lockdown, you saw the amazing Silverado commercials where trailers seem to disappear. I still don’t understand the technology, but then I still don’t understand how they put toothpaste in a tube, either.
For you techies, here are the components of this groundbreaking system. The Cargo View Enhancement system consists of Cargo Bed Zoom View and Hitch Guidance for assistance in hooking up a trailer. The Rear Trailer View and Trailer-Angle Indicator aid in backing a trailer. Lastly, Rear Side View Enhancement provides a split view of a trailer and was previously only available when driving forward, but is now available in reverse. All of them combine to make a trailer seem to disappear into the scenery.
FCA US LLC
In our last issue, we explained that the Chrysler (FCA) merger with Peugeot (PSA) does not impact the Dodge or RAM® lines, as they remain standalone marques. Departments currently using Dodge and Durango Pursuits, or RAM SSVs, can breathe a sigh of relief because they will be able to maintain integrity in their fleets and seamlessly integrate the 2021 models.
By now, delivery of 2020 models on order have been completed and dealers are now taking orders for both Dodge Pursuits. Charger Pursuit production starts the fourth quarter of this year at the Brampton (Ontario) Assembly Plant, while Durango Pursuit production starts the first quarter of 2021 at their Jefferson Street Assembly Plant (Detroit).
While the 2021 Charger and Durango external appearance is pretty much unchanged, there are more upgrades to both than you could easily count. Both are equipped with new transmissions and high-tech features designed for officer safety, vehicle responsiveness and fuel efficiency.
The 2021 Dodge Charger Pursuit now features the new TorqueFlite eight-speed transmission with both engine/drive choices, the 3.6L V-6 AWD and the 5.7L HEMI V-8 RWD which is controlled by a lever shifter mounted on the dash. The new powertrain combos meet or exceed the Charger Pursuit’s previous performance profiles of acceleration, braking and handling. These improvements are also expected to increase fuel efficiency.
Other new standard features include a computer limited top speed setting of 140 mph with the ability for departments to configure and limit top speeds if needed. The new Chargers also feature H/D BR9 braking systems, electric power steering, Apple CarPlay®, Android Auto, and an increased gross vehicle rating of 5,500 pounds to accommodate additional payloads.
The Charger’s standard officer security system is a comprehensive warning system which alerts them of movement outside a stationary vehicle. The system utilizes rear-facing sensors and cameras to warn officers by immediately sounding an alarm, activating emergency lights, locking doors, and closing windows, while images of the threat appear instantly on the touch screen.
Secure Park uses the transmission brake switch to prevent the transmission being shifted out of the park position, thereby preventing theft, while optional front door ballistic panels protect officers seated or outside when using the doors as shields.
The 2021 Durango Pursuit interior is comfortable and easily disinfected for COVID with police specific seats and vinyl floor mats. Officers are protected by seven standard air bags and will appreciate the new dash mounted shift lever which replaces the “dial-a-gear” rotary knob. The K-9 friendly three zone HVAC system is a great addition which will probably be appreciated by detainees, too.
The Durango features a standard Load-Leveling Suspension which maintains a constant 8.1″ ride height and full wheel travel even under maximum load.
Ford Motor Company
As we reported earlier, COVID-19 caused factory closings and halted Interceptor Utility production; however, Ford kept one plant open to manufacture PPE, primarily ventilators.
With COVID a primary concern, Ford engineers developed a technique for the Interceptor Utilities to “self-disinfect” and neutralize the COVID-19 virus by using a new heat software solution which temporarily raises interior temperatures beyond 133 degrees for 15 minutes. Extensive tests have shown that the system killed 99% of the virus and, in some situations, heat can even be more effective than disinfectants because it reaches all touch points and has the ability to seep into crevices and hard to reach areas which might have been missed during manual cleaning. This solution is standard on the 2020/2021 Utilities and is available to retrofit 2013-2019 Utilities.
This system can disinfect vehicles prior to, or after, shifts, or any time they may have been contaminated, meaning that a vehicle doesn’t have to be taken out of service (or relocated to a service facility) for a lengthy period.
A new option for the 2021 Utility frees up interior space for officers in the front seats. Utilizing a 12.1″ Integrated Computer Screen (ICS) which is smartly stationed within easy reach (and clear view) at the top of the instrument panel center stack, departments can now stash their portable computers out of the way and they can connect directly with the ICS system. The system is factory installed and factory warranted and potentially eliminates the need for a standalone keyboard.
Lastly, Ford has added a new exterior color to their PI Utility color choices. Black and white police cars have long represented law enforcement, but now Ford’s crime fighting SUV can also be ordered in their popular Carbonized Gray hue which has proven to be the choice of 38% of new Ford buyers.
LDV is one of the leading manufacturers of specialized law enforcement vehicles, including command centers, SWAT, bomb disposal, and more. One of their most recent deliveries was a Mobile Command Center for the Avondale (AZ) Police Department. Built on a Freightliner M2 conventional cab chassis, Avondale PD’s mobile command center is powered by a Cummins L9 diesel engine which produces 350 hp. The vehicle features four flat floor slide-outs for maximum interior workspace, extreme duty body storage compartments, a weatherproof exterior workstation complete with large display monitor, and more. The interior includes a front conference area with countertops and dual workstations. The front room features flip-down bench seating and the center of the truck houses the Intel-I-Touch™ vehicle automation touchscreen.
These are the aftermarket items you can add to your fleet to make your officers’ jobs easier, more efficient and safer.
CODE 3, Inc.
The newest lightbar on the market comes from a company which is no stranger to American cops, CODE 3, of St. Louis, MO. The latest addition to their lineup is the Covert™ lightbar, the latest Matrix® enabled lightbar, a thin, highly adaptable bar which measures a scant 1.6″ high with dual or tri-color LED light heads. Thicker lenses and stronger frames resist wear, tear and warping, extending the overall service life. In addition, a built-in photocell can be used to trigger dimming functionality, greatly improving visibility at night.
The Covert is available in nine lengths and five lens cover colors and allows any color combination of the light heads (red, blue, white, amber, or green) and limitless flash pattern combinations.
Golight, Inc. is a leading manufacturer of remote controlled spotlights, headquartered in Nebraska. Their lights are in use worldwide, including a great number of law enforcement agencies here in the US.
Their new Golight GT Series features wireless or hardwired remote control options; permanent or portable mounting; 370° rotation x 135° tilt; and is UV ray- and saltwater-resistant. The GT Series (halogen) has a light output of 225,000 candela and a max beam distance of 3,113 feet. The LED version has 544,000 candela and a max beam distance of 4,839 feet.
The new Stryker ST Series features a number of upgrades from the previous Stryker models, including a Multiple Unit Selector Function which allows for independent control of two units with one remote and a Home Position Function (on command return to 0° home).
New from SoundOff is their mpower® ORV Lights which illuminate with the industry’s first silicone lens with a high-power hybrid optic. The output of the 6×1 inch high-power optic bar generates 4,147 (raw) lumens. The design of this new product delivers a much higher candela output with a smaller footprint and the higher UV and thermal stability helps to prevent the lens from yellowing over time. These new lights come in a 2×1 inch, 6×1 inch, or 2×1 inch dual stack configurations.
Vehicle and many equipment manufacturers share your concern about the war on American LE and are rapidly developing safety-related products. Both Dodgeand Ford have added alert systems to their vehicles which warn of approaching individuals.
Havis has recently partnered with Hardwire to provide mission critical ballistic armor for public safety vehicles. Hardwire’s Vehicle Armor products are a solution for adding ballistic protection to a police vehicle without major vehicle modifications. Hardwire’s car door armor quickly attaches to a vehicle’s exterior and their Transparent Armor Window Insert fits into existing vehicle window openings. The window insert and vehicle door armor provide protection against handguns and shotguns (NIJ Level IIIA) or rifles (NIJ Level III).
Jotto Desk has released the Defend IR Security System explicitly designed for patrol vehicles. This is a console mounted infrared system which fits Jotto’s and most competitors’ consoles, monitoring the interior of your vehicle. The Defend IR automatically arms upon the ignition being turned off and not seeing movement for an adjustable period of time. If movement is sensed, a countdown begins (adjustable to ten, 20, 30, or 40 seconds). It will then activate your lights and siren, alerting the officer and scaring off any potential criminal. In the case of an accidental alarm trip, simply start your vehicle and the Defend IR will disarm. It supplements factory alarms and protects parked take-home units.
Pro-gard™ Products, LLC
Pro-gard has developed the VIPER™ Shield Enhanced Space Saver Partition which provides protection outside the vehicle for the officer. Through the Shield Rapid Deployment System, a lightweight ballistic shield mounts to the backside of Pro-gard’s partitions, creating a dedicated location which makes it easy to locate and deploy when the officer pulls the T-lever from the driver’s seat. Once deployed, the officer can slip out from the cover of the door (if needed), open the rear door, grab the shield, and approach the scene with additional ballistic protection. These are available for Chevy Tahoes and Surburbans, Ford PI Utilities and Dodge Chargers.
Tremco Police Products
Tremco Police Products is an industry leader in emergency vehicle protection. Their anti-theft system is inexpensive, easily installed and is activated every time the gearshift lever is placed in the park position. It protects parked vehicles, as well as vehicles which have to be left running at crime scenes, accidents or to protect prisoners and K-9s from excessive heat or cold.
Storage Solutions, Mounts and More
CTech Manufacturing produces a wide variety of cabinets and drawers for public safety. CTech’s lightweight aluminum line of CopBox Cabinets fit most cargo bay areas across a range of manufacturers and models. For fast installation, they offer a ”QuickLink®” mounting solution which uses factory mount locations to secure storage boxes in place. Features exclusive to CTech include MotionLatch®, its one hand-one motion operation which allows easy access to storage areas while maintaining secure closure during transit, as well as the QuickLink Mounting System which allows easy cabinet transfers to other vehicles during upgrades/replacement. Cargo storage cabinets are available in three models: the Trooper, Metro, and Patrol Series.
Havis, Inc. proudly 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, a leading manufacturer of consoles, mounts and weapon racks, recently announced the Mamba Mount, the most deployable laptop mount on the market, designed with the bare minimum of action needed for an officer to utilize his/her laptop. It has five points of adjustment, including a 110° motion arm and a 90º adjustable tilt swivel assembly. The unique swivel/slide design allows you to position your laptop in three positions: Store and Drive, Park and Work and Tactically Safe which can be used while standing outside and behind the passenger door.
Kussmaul Electronics has introduced the Dual Port USB-C and USB-A, available in two housings, SVR and NGR. The Dual Port USB-C and USB-A offer a quick and easy way to recharge electronic devices in a vehicle. They feature a 63 watt max output which allows the charging of two devices at the same time (USB-C, 45 watts and USB-A, 18 watts max) and are easily installed in 12V or 24V systems.
Lund Industries, Inc.
Lund Industries, Inc. has announced their new patented LOFT lineup of gun vaults which store weapons out-of-sight in an otherwise “unused space” and provide three levels of locks to secure weapons, plus an auto opening feature. Lund has single gun and dual gun mount designs as well as electronics storage, auto-opening gun storage, and storage for emergency medical/rescue devices. They now have units available for the 2021 Tahoe, as well as other SUVs.
OPS Public Safety
OPS Public Safety has launched their Secure Underseat Storage Units for the Ford F-150, Dodge RAM and GMC and Silverado trucks. These units come fully assembled in 16-gauge steel construction. They feature a dual lid operation for both driver and passenger access and have a lifetime warranty.
Printek has printers for public safety applications. Their VehiclePro 420 eCitation Console Printer is a four inch thermal printer which mounts to a dashboard or console and has applications for citations, accident reports and more. Their Interceptor 820 is a fast and easy to use eight inch mobile printer which is compact, rugged, self-contained, and features a drop-in paper roll. It also works with a multitude of eCitation software packages.
Pro-gard Products, LLC
Pro-gard has a new Cargo Security Cover for the popular LE SUVs which conceals equipment, weapons, tools, and electronics. It can be used with or without a Pro-gard Cargo Barrier and provides additional mounting surfaces for gun racks, accessories and electronics.
Rockland Custom Products
Rockland Custom Products has recently introduced Raised Weapons Drawers for LE SUVs and pickups. They keep weapons secure and, when installed in SUV cargo areas with their exclusive Secure Cabinet Risers, they raise the unit 12″ off the floor and allow full access to the factory spare tire. They are available with a variety of locks, handles and accessories.
Setina Manufacturing Co., Inc.
Founded in 1963, Setina Manufacturingis among the first push bar manufacturers in the United States. Setina 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. Along with that, Setina also has their complete line of vehicle products available for the Ford Interceptor Utility and for both the Dodge Charger and Durango Pursuit vehicles. One of their newer offerings is a multi-tiered Cargo Box which provides a first-rate solution for trunk placement of supporting equipment. Manufactured with heavy-duty, lightweight aluminum, this storage solution offers quick and easy installation, with no drilling required. Users are able to maximize vehicle storage capabilities for firearms, cargo and communications equipment. Features also include innovative modular designs, along with a choice of advanced locking systems.
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 with a variety of drawers for vented storage of the aircraft, batteries, monitors, cameras and other drone-related gear. They also offer a dedicated power source.
TruckVault has also developed the All-Weather Line of weatherproof storage units for LE pickups. The Line-X® coating and compression locks ensure that your gear stays dry and clean no matter the conditions.
Westin® Public Safety Division
Westin’s new Public Safety Push Bumper Elite is made of heavy-duty HRPO steel with four-gauge uprights featuring 2 3/4″ wide rubber strips. A lower tube provides extra protection and strength. The Push Bumper Elite offers customization for specific needs and provides the best in strength, durability and protection. The Push Bumper Elite front-end protection unit is available in solid (no light openings), as well as two, three or four light options. The unit comes pre-drilled for side mounting LED lights, as well as for Elite Wing Wraps (sold separately) and PIT Bars (also sold separately).
Sergeant James Post appreciates your comments and suggestions for future columns. He can be reached at email@example.com.