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Police vehicles are integral to law enforcement agencies operating efficiently and effectively. Officers spend a lot of time in their patrol cars, and they have become a mobile office in many respects. Managing these fleets is a major responsibility, regardless if an agency is small or large. Although terrain and weather conditions might impact the wear and tear on police vehicles, there are several other issues that can affect any department’s fleet, whether it is located on the East Coast, West Coast, or in the Midwest. Police Fleet Manager talked to several fleet managers about how their jobs have changed over the past few years and the topics they are most concerned about.

Matt Foscue
US Border Patrol Academy Fleet
Artesia, NM

Question: How long have you been a Fleet Manager?
Answer: 2 years – I am a law enforcement agent who started assisting with fleet at the training academy then took over primary responsibility. have been the Fleet Division Manager for Travis County for three years. Prior to that, I was the Maintenance Manager with the Texas Department of Public Safety, and I am retired from the City of Austin (after 25 years) as a Maintenance Manager.

Q: What are a few of your key, primary responsibilities?
A: Planning, directing and managing a 435-vehicle fleet along with an additional 200+ ATVs, UTVs, and trailers. Tracking, verifying, and budgeting for fleet maintenance and repairs.

Q: If you had to pick one or two fleet-related issues that “keep you up on a Sunday night” what would they be?
A: Ongoing, largescale issues – such as rapidly aging vehicles that are difficult to replace. The myriad “little” tasks that seem like death by a thousand cuts will often jolt me awake in the early morning – “did I do that yet?” kind of stuff.

Q: Have you ever been to Police Fleet Expo? If so, what was your experience like?
A: I have only been this one time. My experience was good in that I was able to meet with several product and industry representatives and discuss issues unique to our fleet. Face-to-face meetings away from computers can be an incredibly productive exchange of ideas. Computer, phone, and emails are often focused on a specific issue. The chance to banter in an environment without time pressure generates new ideas and resolutions.

Q: How do you keep up on new vehicles, new vehicle equipment, and new products in the market?

A: Manufacturer reps who call or visit the department, which is rare, but extremely beneficial. UNICOR representatives visited, and we gave them a driving demo and a new vehicle product was developed as a result. As far as the following:
Trade shows (like Police Fleet Expo): occasional – one to two a year
Trade magazines (like Police Fleet Manager): none
Email solicitation/notices about a new product
Mail (postcards, flyers): do not receive mail
Colleagues (other Fleet Managers): most valuable resource, I reach out to others with more experience frequently

Q: Who actually makes the vehicle purchasing decisions within your agency?
A: Vehicle purchases are conducted using established agency protocols.

Q: Who makes the following purchasing decisions in your agency regarding:
A: Vehicle purchases are conducted using established agency protocols.
Radios, body cameras, and laptops: purchase decisions are conducted using established agency protocols.
Lightbars and other exterior equipment for the vehicle: Same as above, purchase decisions are conducted using established agency protocols.

Q: Is it difficult to get vehicles or vehicle parts right now, due to the supply chains being disrupted during the pandemic?
A: Yes, we are still waiting on vehicles ordered in 2019.

Q: Is hiring good, qualified personnel to work within the fleet departments a problem? Do you have several vacancies?
A: Yes, we are in a rural area with a healthy economy. I do not do hiring, but it is a constant issue attracting good people to a rural area.

Q: Are the costs of maintaining a fleet of vehicles coming in higher than other years or about the same?
A: With only two years of experience, I cannot comment on that.

Q: How are you handling all the new technology in the vehicles today? Is it making your job easier or more complicated?
A: The new technology is making the job easier for most, but the fleet managers have more work. While it is incredibly convenient to refer to your computer for updated vehicle information, there are more databases to maintain and more electronics issues to deal with. Telematics, for instance, completely relieved operators/drivers of tracking fuel expenses and reporting mileage, but it has shifted monitoring and tracking telematics problems to the fleet managers. Additionally, as more data becomes available, there are more requirements for fleet managers to provide that data in a palatable form to satisfy increasing policy requirements.

 

David Milligan
Fleet Manager
City of Durham, NC Police Department

Q: How long have you been a Fleet Manager?
A: I have been a Police Fleet Manager for 10 years, and I have been a Tech in Automotive Electronics for 41 years.

Q: What are a few of your key, primary responsibilities?
A: Vehicle assignments/inventory, purchase and replacement, equipment specifications and oversight of installations and service/repairs, department accident review board.

Q: If you had to pick one or two fleet-related issues that “keep you up on a Sunday night” what would they be?
A: Vehicle availability

Q: Have you ever been to Police Fleet Expo? If so, what was your experience like?
A: Yes, I have attended several PFEs. It is a good opportunity to view current technology and innovations in our industry.

Q: How do you keep up on new vehicles, new vehicle equipment, and new products in the market?
A: All of the below:
Manufacturer Reps who call or visit the department
Trade Shows (like PFE)
Trade Magazines (like PFM)
Email Solicitation (notices in your email about a new product)
Mail (postcards, flyers)
Colleagues (other Fleet Managers)

Q: Who actually makes the vehicle purchasing decisions within your agency?
A: Myself with coordination among other individuals.

Q: Who makes the following purchasing decisions in your agency regarding these items?
A: Vehicles – Myself
Radios -Myself
Body Cameras – Myself
Rugged Laptops or other items for the vehicle – Myself
Lightbars and other exterior equipment for the vehicle – Myself

Q: Is it difficult to get vehicles or vehicle parts right now, due to the supply chains being disrupted during the pandemic?
A: New vehicles and upfitting equipment have been noticeably slower, close to 12 months in some cases.

Q: Is hiring good, qualified personnel to work within the fleet departments a problem? Do you have several vacancies?
A: We have been understaffed for years. Our shop is responsible for over 550 vehicles with only two techs and myself.

Q: Are the costs of maintaining a fleet of vehicles coming in higher than other years or about the same?
A: We allow 5 percent cost growth per year as a general rule.

Q: How are you handling all the new technology in the vehicles today? Is it making your job easier or more complicated?
A: No significant change in our approach for vehicles and outfitting. Hybrids and electric vehicles are now finding their way into our builds and we have adapted well.

 

Dave Henrichs
Fleet Administrator
Sarasota County, FL Sheriff’s Office

Q: How long have you been a Fleet Manager?
A: I have been a fleet manager for 14 years. I have been with the agency for more than 38 years.

Q: What are a few of your key, primary responsibilities?
A: Overseeing the purchasing of vehicles, emergency equipment, vehicle parts, fuel, and more.

Q: If you had to pick one or two fleet-related issues that “keep you up on a Sunday night” what would they be?
A: Currently, it is the lack of vehicle availability due to the microchip shortage.

Q: Have you ever been to Police Fleet Expo? If so, what was your experience like?
A: Yes, I have been attending since it started, with the exception of the last two years due to the pandemic. It is an excellent conference/expo.

Q: How do you keep up on new vehicles, new vehicle equipment, new products in the market?
A: Pretty much the list you gave as examples and in the order you have them in:
Manufacturer reps who call or visit the department
Trade Shows (like PFE)
Trade Magazines (like PFM)
Email Solicitation (notices in your email about a new product)
Mail (postcards, flyers)
Colleagues (other Fleet Managers)

Q: Who actually makes the vehicle purchasing decisions within your agency?
A: I do, I review the vehicles in the fleet and present our needs to my chain of command. Then based on our budget, we may adjust the number of vehicles that get replaced each year.

Q: Who makes the following purchasing decisions in your agency regarding:
A: Vehicles
Radios
Body Cameras
Rugged Laptops or other items for the vehicle
Lightbars and other exterior equipment for the vehicle
A: I do, for most everything vehicle and equipment related.

Q: Is it difficult to get vehicles or vehicle parts right now, due to the supply chains being disrupted during the pandemic?
A: Yes, it has been challenging for a lot of various parts.

Q: Is hiring good, qualified personnel to work within the fleet departments, a problem? Do you have several vacancies?
A: Currently, we have a full staff. But yes, it can be difficult to find qualified staff. We hired both an automotive technician and an emergency equipment installer last year. It was difficult to fill both positions with a qualified person.

Q: Are the costs of maintaining a police fleet (or fleet of vehicles) coming in higher than other years or about the same?
A: Yes, everything has gone up, the lack of supply versus demand.

Q: How are you handling all the new technology in the vehicles today? Is it making your job easier or more complicated?
A: A little of both; we are very fortunate to have a very qualified, great, smart group of people that take a lot of pride in their jobs.