The Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Office in Michigan purchased a Chevrolet Volt and plans to upfit the vehicle as a fully operational police car. Bob Mossing, fleet manager for the County and business manager for the Sheriff’s Office, said this is part of the County’s greening efforts.
“We’re trying to get as ‘green’ in our fleet as we can. We’ve been trying to green our fleet for a long time, but the problem is the majority of vehicles in the fleet that create the largest carbon footprint are police vehicles,” Mossing said. “We have done a good job of putting vehicles on the road that get better mileage…but we still use a lot of gas. We still drive a lot of miles. This is an opportunity to see what the Volt can do for us."
Officers are driving the vehicle around in order to provide feedback before it gets upfitted. “We don’t want to jeopardize deputy safety, so we’re going to test it and see what we can do. We’re testing new vehicle technology and new equipment on the vehicle. Instead of putting a large laptop in the vehicle, we’re going to put an iPad in there. The iPad will connect through 4G connectivity and the virtual network to get into all the police software that they need to access while driving,” Mossing said.
While the test vehicle is an addition to the fleet, if it works out, it could replace a Ford Crown Victoria or Chevrolet Tahoe. The Sheriff’s Office purchased the Volt used from a local dealer for about half the price of a new vehicle. It has 50,000 miles on it.
Mossing said he expects the vehicle to be ready for service in about two weeks. “We’re going to provide equipment and work around the limited space we have,” Mossing said about the upfits. In addition to the iPad, upfitters will install a customized cage and a handheld light and siren controller instead of a console-mounted one. It will also get regular radio and video equipment.
Officers will use the vehicle for patrol in a non-urban area, and a school resource officer will use it when providing security to a school.
During test drives, officers report getting about 60 miles on the battery alone. With no charging stations available yet, officers are charging the vehicle during the night shift on a regular 110V outlet, which takes more than eight hours. Mossing is looking into installing charging stations.
“The purpose of this is to reduce carbon footprint, test a new vehicle and police technology, reduce cost, be good stewards of taxpayer dollars, and not jeopardize deputy safety,” Mossing said.
Mossing said in the future, he hopes to be able to work with GM to provide a more upfit-ready version of the vehicle, with less civilian items and more room for police equipment.
By Thi Dao