Every day, police officers around the United States are responsible for protecting and serving their communities to the best of their ability. Officers use a variety of technologies and tools to make themselves as effective as possible at their law enforcement-related tasks.
GPS tracking for police vehicles is one such tool that police precincts across the country have adopted in recent years. Police GPS tracking has been successfully implemented for fleet management in precincts across the country to:
- Increase safety
- Improve response times
- Reduce fuel costs
- Actively combat car thieves
Here are a few reasons why many law enforcement precincts and departments are putting this technology to the test for police vehicle tracking:
1. Increased Officer Safety
Police officers, sheriffs, and other law enforcement professionals need every advantage to keep themselves and their communities safe. Tools such as GPS fleet tracking for police help to make daily law enforcement activities safer and more efficient for everyone.
Law enforcement can be very dangerous. According to statistics from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund, over the last decade (2008-2017), 1,511 law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty.
The leading causes of death have included:
- Shootings (514 deaths)
- Auto crashes (364 deaths)
- Job-related illness (325 deaths)
- Struck by vehicle (126 deaths)
Officers in distress need for their backup and emergency first aid to arrive quickly after a distress call. The risk of a fatality increases exponentially with every minute that response is delayed by not being able to locate an officer. 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.
GPS tracking helps to increase officer safety by transmitting their squad car’s current location, minimizing the time it takes for backup to arrive and finding the origin point of the call. These vital minutes could mean the difference between life and death for an injured officer.
Additionally, GPS tracking for police helps you to identify and address officers who practice ineffective or dangerous driving habits on the road. This documented information enables police precinct chiefs to enforce safe driving habits among their officers more effectively. This helps to reduce the risk of fatal crashes, lawsuits, and other situations that can result from bad driving behaviors.
2. Improved Patrol Coverage
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 impact public safety.
Optimizing patrol routes helps to increase patrol efficiently as well as the perception of police presence — which serves as a powerful deterrent to criminal activity.
GPS tracking devices on police vehicles help to improve patrol coverage in different ways, including:
- Tracking Coverage of Patrol Routes in Real Time. Some GPS solutions employ software plug-ins to track the amount of time that has passed since a GPS-tagged asset has visited a particular area. Police dispatch 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.
- Limiting Patrol Overlap. While it’s important to make sure that no one area goes too long without a police presence, excessive patrol overlap also can be an inefficient use of your patrol assets. Dispatch can actively prevent too many patrol units from gathering in one location by tracking where each squad car is at any given time.
- Reducing 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 resources while reducing the area the car can patrol. With GPS, it’s easy to determine when a car spends too much time in idle so dispatch can remind the driver to get back on their assigned route.
Additionally, the geofencing is an invaluable tool that can be used to inform you about when GPS-tagged vehicles enter or leave high-crime areas. The tool allows law enforcement to create virtual boundaries that correspond with physical locations in the real world. Not only can this help to improve patrol coverage in high-crime areas, it also can help to improve officer safety by tracking precisely when and where their patrol cars enter or leave the specified area.
These capabilities help police precincts to cover larger areas with fewer vehicles more efficiently.
3. Increased 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 officers in the field.
It is for this reason, among others, that dashboard and body cams are quickly becoming standard issue for law enforcement. GPS tracking technology can supplement these trust-building tools by helping precinct staff accurately track when and where police vehicles have traveled at all times.
Additionally, this GPS tracking data can be used to monitor officers’ driving habits when they’re on duty. By monitoring driving habits, precincts can enforce driving practices and behaviors that help to keep officers, commuters, and municipal assets safe. It also helps precinct staff to ensure that officers are not using precinct assets for personal use at the cost of taxpayers.
4. Fuel Cost Savings
The fuel budget 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 costs, such as:
- Excessive idle time
- Inefficient patrol routes
- Minor engine problems
- Hard acceleration/braking
Considering that AAA reports the national average cost of regular gas in the U.S. is $2.957 per gallon ($3.213 for diesel) as of June 1 and are expected to continue to rise in 2018, it’s easy to see how the costs can quickly add up.
Law enforcement agencies that implement GPS tracking for police vehicles can reduce fuel 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
You can see why it is worth it to invest in police GPS tracking for your team. It improves efficiency and coverage, increases safety by optimizing backup response times and enforcing safe driving practices, builds transparency and accountability of police activities to the public, and helps your organization save on overhead costs. These reasons, among others, make GPS one investment that nearly every police precinct should make.
Learn more about how police GPS tracking can make law enforcement and communities safer today! Click on the image below to download our free guide.