If you think that idling parked Manteca Police patrol cars unattended by an officer are wasting gas, guess again.
The patrol units are kept running to ensure the public’s safety as well as that of officers.
That’s due to two things: Technology and heat.
“It can take up to 10 minutes to power up all of the equipment after the engine is turned off,” noted Police Chief Nick Obligacion
That equipment includes an onboard computer used to access criminal data bases plus run licenses and enter reports, video and recording equipment, dispatch radio, emergency lights and more.
“If the engines are turned off officers can’t adequately respond to a call,” the chief said.
That’s the primary reason why patrol cars are left idling when officers are meeting with citizens in homes, businesses or outdoors as well as when they are on lunch breaks.
The battery can’t keep all of the equipment going on its own. The department tried a back-up battery but that didn’t work either.
“If an officer can’t access critical information quickly in an emergency that can endanger the public and delay response times,” the police chief said.
And it’s not just a matter of powering up computers. Just like all computers they require passwords before they are functional.
“Seconds count,” the chief said.
And while Obligacion said it is obvious why K9 units need to have air condition running this time of year, police officers also face additional challenges in hot weather.
Not only do they have bullet proof vests that are heavy and cut off air flow given the need to be solid, but an officer typically carries at least 20 to 25 pounds of other equipment on their belts.
“They can get hot real quick in the best of circumstances,” the chief said of officers.
The switch to Chevy Tahoes has helped reduce the wear and tear on engines as well as vehicles overall.
The Ford Crown Victoria units start piling up problems after about 100,000 miles making them less dependable and costly to maintain.
The Chevy SUVs have a rated police use life of 140,000 although several Manteca Police Tahoes are past the 150,000 mile mark without showing an increase on maintenance or having dependability issues.
Obligacion said the SUVs initially cost more but because they are on a heavy duty truck platform they have fewer issues and last longer. As a result they are less expensive per mile to operate that a traditional sedan police unit.
Eventually all Manteca Police patrol vehicles will be Chevy Tahoes.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyattQ@mantecabulletin.com