Frustrated by dead batteries, alternators that need replacing and officer grumbling, Tomball (Texas) Police Chief Rob Hauck asked his vehicle upfitter for a power solution.
"As we've added on to the technology and electronics were putting in police cars, we're putting a greater drain on the police cars," Hauck tells POLICE Magazine. "There's nothing more frustrating for a police officer than when they find out their cruiser is dead."
Chief Hauck eventually implemented an auxiliary charging solution that has kept the department's 15 patrol vehicles patroling the jurisdiction and given officers the confidence that their cruiser will start when they turn the ignition key.
The Tomball PD implemented a plug-in solution from Kussmaul Electronics that feeds enough juice to cruiser batteries when they're parked, and conditions the batteries so they don't overcharge, giving the cars just the right electrical charge to power the vehicle, low-voltage Whelen LED light bars, Mobile Data Computers (MDCs) and radio gear.
At a cost of $720 per vehicle, Chief Hauck's upfitter installed hanging plugs in the bays that can be directly inserted into a flap-covered plug mounted to the vehicle's rear quarter panel. The vehicles are parked rear end in.
When an officer turns the ignition key, the plug ejects automatically from the cruiser, so officers don't need to manually pull them out.
The auxiliary charging is preferable to adding a second battery to the cruisers to handle emergency lighting and other police equipment, because second batteries would also be drained without an officer being aware of it.
The Tomball PD's 47 sworn officers cover a 10-square-mile suburb located about 30 miles north of Houston that has a population of 13,000.