Saturday, April 28, 2007

Civilian Police Academy - Class 9, Part 2: The bottom line

Still dealing with that pesky back muscle.

Our next speaker was with the Fleet/Facilities Management. I, for one, was very impressed with the way he makes sure the county gets the most bang for its buck in everything they purchase. The Sheriff's Office has 1897 vehicles, and they rotate them out by auctioning them off and using the funds to help buy new ones. They have to be 'certified' police cars, so they can't go to any manufacturer.

Before they decide on what kind of car to buy, they meet with the engineers, they check with the Michigan State Police Report that tests all vehicles, and they'll take a car, have drivers test it for 3 days in the local SO driving school, then bring it to the shop for a complete evaluation. If it passes, it'll go out for bid. Right now, they're buying Chevy Impalas. The classic Crown Vics were going up in price and down in resale value.

Interesting to learn was that although they have a complete auto shop, the S.O. sends the cars out to Jiffy Lube for every other oil change -- it's cheaper. But in between, they have their own mechanics do a complete check.

And all I did when I wanted a new car was read the Consumer Report evaluation and go on line to find a price and dealer!

We also found out what happens when a deputy is in a crash. In addition to the requisite paperwork, they go before a 20 person review board to find out if they should be charged. On the basis of trends, the S.O. may also change its training. For example, they were getting a lot of crashes in intersections where cruisers were running with lights and sirens. However, the public wasn't stopping. So, now cruisers have to stop at intersections.

In addition to all the vehicles, the department is also responsible for every piece of equipment a deputy drives, shoots, wears, flies, or rides on. They have to determine what to buy. Anything over $750 must go out for bids. Annual inventories (almost 20,000 pieces) must be done visually. They're working on a bar code system that will computerize the process. If an officer loses something, there's another review board process.

A tidbit I gleaned for my writing is that the building areas are secured via electronic locks, which are opened via a "proximity card" each deputy carries. No keys. The plan is to get these chips imbeded into their ID cards and to have the computer system able to update who's allowed to go where, without having to physically update the card. I can see some interesting plot developments brewing.

I think our department is doing a great job with our tax dollars.

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