Police Fleet Conference returned to GFX in 2024, after a lineup of standing room only sessions at the 2023 event. - Photo: Elizabeth Stewart Photography

Police Fleet Conference returned to GFX in 2024, after a lineup of standing room only sessions at the 2023 event.

Photo: Elizabeth Stewart Photography

When it comes to managing law enforcement vehicles, public sector fleet managers have a duty to ensure the vehicles are well maintained to handle the rigors of police work. From the tires to the sirens, every part of the police car and the equipment it’s upfitted with is important.

Now in its second year, Police Fleet Conference (PFC) at the Government Fleet Expo & Conference (GFX), continues to grow, as an opportunity for fleet professionals to learn about managing the vehicles the men and women in blue drive while protecting their communities.

Here are six takeaways from this year’s event.                                       

1. Fleet departments have a responsibility to ensure officer safety.

Fleet managers are tasked with finding the best ways to protect officers in their mobile offices. This was emphasized in various sessions, but Robert Martinez, retired deputy commissioner of the support services bureau for the New York City Police Department put a special emphasis on it during a Shop Talk.

Several years ago, Martinez set a goal of getting his entire fleet of marked patrol vehicles and command post RVs outfitted with ballistic panels and glass, after a number of NYPD officers were shot and killed while sitting in their patrol vehicles, and another in a command post RV.

“I made a commitment that I never wanted another police officer to get killed in one of my vehicles. I didn't have control of everything else, but I did have so much control of the vehicles,” Martinez said.

Bottom line, fleet managers can influence safety-related decision-making to protect officers.

2. The pursuit rating is nothing to be afraid of.

In recent years, pursuit policies for law enforcement agencies across the country have become more stringent, leaving some stakeholders to wonder whether a pursuit-rated vehicle is still necessary.

A panel of representatives from the Detroit Three – the makers of pursuit-rated vehicles – gathered to discuss what goes into their vehicles, as Sgt. Jason Brake from the city and county of Denver and Michael McCarthy, retired lieutenant from the Michigan State Police’s Precision Driving Unit shared the basics of pursuit policy and what a pursuit-rated vehicle even is.

The consensus? There’s not really a solid definition for a ‘pursuit-rated’ vehicle, and that’s because there is no agency that sets a standard of tests a vehicle must pass in order to carry that moniker. While Michigan State Police does conduct an annual test of police vehicles, the test is not done to give the vehicles any kind of certification. It’s simply a way to measure what the vehicles can do.

OEM reps from Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis explained that the mechanics of their vehicles with ‘pursuit-rated’ in the title are simply enhanced with the rigors of police work in mind.

“A purpose-built patrol vehicle is capable of performing the duties of law enforcement, including pursuits,” McCarthy said.

3. Proper tire care is crucial.

Despite being the most important part of a law enforcement vehicle, the tire is often the most neglected. Officers, deputies, and troopers should have a basic understanding of the mechanics of the tire, how it works, and warning signs that it needs attention.

While the tire pressure monitoring system is a good starting point, it’s not the only factor officers should look at. They should put their eyes on their tires at the beginning and end of every shift, looking for inconsistencies that need addressing. Over-inflating tires can also cause problems. Educating officers on the basics of tire care is critical.

“Make that commitment that you’re going to change the perception of tires; tires matter,” Sgt. Tom Gorman of the Connecticut State Police urged attendees in the session, ‘Rolling Safely: All About Police Tires’.

4. Collaboration between departments is key.

When your fleet department is not the one doing the upfitting work, it can be tough to have any influence in decision-making and the implementation of the upfitting process.

When Akbar Rahyab and Jessica Rhoades began working with the Fairfax County, Virginia, Police Department, the turnaround times for basic jobs like decaling were long, and there was a disconnect between the department and the county’s service department, which handles the work.

The two departments did not work well together. Using basic data and background knowledge, Rahyab and Rhoades were able to present new approaches to the service department to speed up the process. By working alongside the department and bringing data to the table, the two helped decrease build times by 21%.

Additionally, the team also made sure to get to know the technicians servicing the vehicles to let them know they were appreciated.

“We've extended the olive branch to our [Department of Vehicle Services] partners by meeting with them consistently and keeping open lines of communication with them,” Rhoades said.

5. Emergency sirens have different use applications.

This may be obvious to some, but there are differences in siren types. For example, high-frequency sirens may be ideal for highway patrol applications, giving motorists advance warning to oncoming troopers making an emergency response or on a pursuit.

Low-frequency sirens can work well in urban environments. While they are loud for motorists in the immediate area, their sound does not travel as far, keeping the noise contained to only those who need the alert. In some cases, there are mixed-use applications for both high- and low-frequency sirens that can be beneficial.

The goal is to keep both the public and law enforcement officers safe on our roadways.

"The more time the motoring public has or pedestrians have to react, the more time a first responder has to safely get where they're going and accomplish their tasks," said Preston Tischer, product manager for Whelen Engineering.

6. Emerging technologies can make your job as a fleet manager easier.

Police departments aren’t always known for embracing new technology to do their jobs. As the saying goes, if it ain’t broken, don’t fix it. But rather than fixing it, technology is often meant to enhance the job of an officer — and in some cases, make the job safer — both protecting the officer physically and protecting their careers.

Take telematics, for example. Law enforcement officers are often hesitant to use them. Among the concerns they have with the technology is a fear of being tracked or even having their vehicle controlled by bad actors. But telematics devices can protect the officer.

If an officer is involved in a crash and the other involved party accuses them of negligence in their driving, the telematics device could validate the officer’s side of the story, measuring things like when the officer began stopping before the crash occurred.

Telematics devices can also provide insights and opportunities for additional behind-the-wheel training.

“Telematics is not meant to demean the driver. It’s meant for you to be able to coach better, more desirable driving behavior,” said Tim Coxwell of the Leon County, Florida, Sheriff’s Office.

Police Fleet Conference returns to GFX with a new lineup of educational sessions June 24-27, 2025, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

About the author
Christy Grimes

Christy Grimes

Senior Editor

Christy Grimes is a Senior Editor at Bobit, working on Automotive Fleet and Government Fleet publications. She has also written for School Bus Fleet.

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