Sgt. Jason Brake, fleet superintendent for the Denver Police Department in Colorado, loves working with new technologies and enjoys collaborating with fleet technicians to come up with ways to better serve citizens with innovative concepts in patrolling. Here are a few ways he’s running a leaner, greener fleet.
Electrifying Wherever Possible
Adapting to and understanding changes in the fleet world is vital to assisting officers with their everyday duties. Staying stagnant and sticking with the same old, same old will stifle innovation that could lead to more effective ways of policing.
“Some technologies need a little finer tuning to work effectively in patrol functions, but overall admin and detective functions can be served well by PHEV/EV and alternative fuel vehicles,” he said.
As green mandates proliferate at both the state and federal levels, it’s important for various government entities to keep up. When it comes to patrol vehicles, Brake is looking forward to the discovery of enhancements that will enable EVs to run for multiple shifts on one charge, put out zero emissions, and still hit on all the other key points needed to be an effective patrol car, such as all-wheel drive, larger storage space, and more room in the rear passenger area.
Brake said he is always keeping his ear to the ground in search of new technologies to reduce carbon emissions and the overall footprint of the city’s fleet on the environment. With that, the department has implemented a water-based paint system in its body shop, which has greatly reduced the overall volatile organic compounds (VOCs) it creates.
“This has developed a safer work environment for our body shop technicians, fleet technicians, and the surrounding area, while still turning out an exceptional product,” he explained.
The fleet team is also investigating the use of more robust telematics software to help track data that will in turn help it optimize driver routes, cut time and fuel costs, ensure safety while driving, and offer better service to the customers it serves. Data related to braking and hard driving will help train officers and end users to improve their driving habits and therefore save on maintenance costs, repairs, and extend the overall life of the fleet.
A piece of technology Brake has implemented is called IdleRight, which helps with idle reduction in patrol vehicles. This allows officers to use all their emergency equipment without emitting excessive CO2 and saves on fuel costs for the year by decreasing fuel consumption.
Saving Money During Tough Times
Facing budget constraints has been a challenge for Brake, a point many fleet managers would sympathize with. With the onset of COVID-19, the agency’s funding was vastly reduced. Brake has put in place many cost saving measures to try and extend use of the aging fleet for a few more years.
The department salvages many parts off older damaged or totaled vehicles, saving hundreds of thousands of dollars in repair costs. It also evaluates each vehicle in the fleet to determine if the vehicle can be replaced, reassigned, or removed entirely. Some of those options also come with replacement of a fossil fueled vehicle with a more environmentally friendly option, such as a plug-in hybrid or battery-electric vehicle, if feasible for the task.
“With these savings, we hope to get a few more years out of our patrol fleet and save the city millions in overall vehicle costs,” he explained.
Communicating to Improve Collaboration
The City of Denver has three independent fleets. Public Works (now known as the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure); the Denver Fire Department; and the Denver Police Department.
“All of these have similar roles but have developed varied methods to reach the same end, which is excellent service to our customers and the customers they serve,” he said.
However, current challenges all these departments are facing are bridging some communication issues, dealing with data incompatibility, and other minor obstacles they have had to come back to the table to rectify.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as it has kept the leaders of each department talking as a team. This, in turn, improves overall responses to crisis and events within the city.