For first responders, every second counts. This is especially true for police fleets. Whether responding to the scene of an accident or a public safety incident, the outcome can depend upon seconds. So, police fleets, as well as other law enforcement agencies, must be as efficient as possible so they can save lives and protect the public.
Faced with the increasing challenges of the 21st century, more and more law enforcement agencies are turning to modern tools and technologies to increase efficiency. GPS fleet management systems is one such tool that has helped police fleets across the country improve operations so they can better serve their communities. How? Police GPS tracking can be used to:
- Increase visibility into your police fleet
- Increase safety of your employees and community
- Reduce fleet costs
- Improve day-to-day efficiency and fleet operations
- Optimize fleet maintenance
- And more!
Ready to learn more about how GPS tracking devices can help you experience these valuable benefits? We’ve compiled this go-to-guide to police GPS tracking so you can better understand the features of vehicle tracker devices and how they can transform your own police fleet—let’s dive in!
What is GPS Tracking?
GPS, an acronym for Global Positioning Satellite, is a system that uses a series of satellites and transmitters to determine the position of a specific object. GPS tracking is a technology that can be used to manage fleets of all sizes in nearly industry, whether that means tracking vehicles and drivers or the location of high-value assets or equipment.
Modern GPS tracking devices have the ability to perform numerous different tasks that go far beyond just location tracking. For example, while some can interface with a vehicle’s diagnostics system to provide remote diagnostics and robust reports, others can allow a vehicle owner to disable their vehicle’s starter remotely to reduce theft. No matter your goals or what you’re looking to monitor, there is likely a GPS tracking device out there that aligns—the key is simply choosing the right option for your specific needs.
Why Do Police Use GPS Tracking?
So, why do police fleets specifically leverage GPS tracking? Police GPS tracking provides a wealth of valuable data that police fleet managers can use to make more strategic, well-informed decisions. When every second on the job counts for first responders, this ability to work smarter and faster can quite literally be the difference between life and death.
Wondering how police use GPS tracking throughout the day-to-day to improve their fleet operations? Here’s four key ways that police feets can actually use GPS tracking devices in practice!
1. Increase Safety for Officers
Police officers, sheriffs, and other law enforcement professionals need every advantage to keep themselves and their communities safe. Modern technologies, such as police GPS tracking, is one such advantage that can help to make daily law enforcement activities safer and more efficient for everyone.
Working in law enforcement can be very dangerous. According to statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, over the last decade (2008-2018), 1,582 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty.
The leading causes of death have included:
- Shootings (528 deaths)
- Auto crashes (350 deaths)
- Job-related illness (408 deaths)
- Struck by vehicle (122 deaths)
Officers in distress need their backup and emergency first aid responders to arrive quickly after a distress call. The risk of a fatality increases exponentially with every minute that a police fleet response is delayed because an officer could not be located. However, finding the exact location of a downed officer in an emergency can be extremely difficult without having a reliable and accurate GPS tracking system available.
A police GPS tracking helps to increase officer safety by transmitting their squad car’s current location, minimizing the time it takes for a backup police fleet to arrive and find the origin point of the call. Efficient fleet management software can save vital minutes, which could mean the difference between life and death for an injured officer.
Police using GPS tracking devices also enables police fleets to cover larger areas with fewer vehicles more efficiently. Many police precincts must cover an extensive area with too few active patrol vehicles, which can lead to a reduced perception of police presence and negatively impact public safety. Optimizing patrol routes through fleet tracking helps to increase patrol efficiently as well as the perception of police presence — which serves as a powerful deterrent to criminal activity.
This increased visibility means that if a police officer or deputy presses the distress button on the radio, you can use the emergency vehicle GPS tracking device that coordinates to dispatch additional police fleet units and medical emergency personnel to the exact location quickly and efficiently. This capability helps to reduce your response time by several minutes, which can make all the difference in the world to a law enforcement officer’s safety. After all, every second counts in an emergency.
Some GPS fleet management software employs software plug-ins to track the amount of time that has passed since a GPS-tagged asset has visited a particular area. With police GPS tracking, police dispatches can use these customizable, color-coded, aging maps to see which routes have been least attended and redirect a patrol car there to improve coverage. This can:
- Limit Patrol Overlap. While it’s important to make sure that no one area goes too long without a patrol presence, excessive patrol overlap also can be an inefficient use of your patrol assets. Through fleet tracking, dispatch can actively prevent too many police fleet units from gathering in one location by tracking where each squad car is at any given time.
- Reduce Idle Time. Engine idle time can be a significant problem for some precincts. While some idle time is unavoidable (especially for highway patrol cars looking for speeders), excessive idling wastes valuable time and contributes to higher fleet costs while reducing the area the car can patrol. With police GPS tracking, it’s easy to determine when a car spends too much time in idle so dispatch can remind the officer to get back on their assigned route.
Additionally, geofencing is an invaluable tool that can be used to inform you about when vehicles outfitted with a vehicle tracker device enter or leave high-crime areas. It allows law enforcement to create virtual boundaries that correspond with physical locations in the real world. Not only can this help to improve fleet operations in high-crime areas, this element of police GPS tracking can help to improve officer safety by tracking precisely when and where their patrol cars enter or leave a specified area.
4. Increase Transparency and Accountability
Law enforcement agencies nationwide are experiencing more scrutiny than ever before. Maintaining the trust of the community your precinct serves requires robust fleet management tools for creating transparency and supporting accountability for a police fleet in the field.
It’s for this reason, among others, that dashboard and body cams are quickly becoming standard issue for law enforcement. Police using gps tracking devices can supplement this trust-building by helping precinct staff accurately track when and where police and their vehicles have traveled at all times.
Fleet costs for a police motor pool is an enormous expense, even for a small precinct. There are a variety of fuel waste factors that contribute to higher fuel consumption and fleet costs, such as:
- Excessive idle time
- Inefficient patrol routes
- Minor engine problems
- Hard acceleration/braking
Law enforcement agencies that implement police GPS tracking for police vehicles can reduce these types of wasteful fleet costs by:
- Improving route planning and assigned route enforcement
- Identifying drivers who frequently brake or accelerate too quickly
- Spotting when vehicles spend an excessive amount of time idling
- Improving maintenance scheduling
6. Improve Driver Behaviors
Fleet management software paired with GPS tracking devices will also allow you to identify and address officers who practice ineffective or dangerous driving habits on the road. Police using GPS tracking devices enable police precinct chiefs to enforce safe driving habits among their officers more effectively, which reduces the risk of fatal crashes, lawsuits, and other situations that can result from bad driving behaviors.
A significant fleet management software benefit of equipping each vehicle with a GPS vehicle tracker device is that it can help to spur real-time adjustments in employee driving behaviors. For example, Rastrac helped Hidalgo County and its Constable Precinct 4 solve these issues, along with many others, leading them to receive a best practices award from the Texas Association of Counties for implementing a GPS vehicle tracking program. Through the program, the county was able to reduce fuel and fleet costs by $25,000, reduce incidents of employee speeding in county vehicles, and cut fleet idle time, saving the public significant money in overhead costs and potential fines.
Ready to Invest in GPS Tracking in Your Police Fleet?
GPS tracking devices for law enforcement are essential to helping to reduce overhead fleet costs and improve efficiency. Being able to accurately track daily fleet operations, optimize preventative fleet maintenance and repairs, adjust employee driving behaviors, and make your patrol routes and dispatches more efficient are just a few of the ways that you can help your police fleet—and, by proxy, the taxpayers—save money!
To learn more about how Rastrac’s police GPS tracking can help to increase fleet efficiency, safety, and cost-savings in your police fleet, be sure to contact us today!