Recently Kelly Milligan and I had the honor of presenting at this year's Police Fleet Expo in beautiful Savannah, Georgia. The topic presented was Department & Upfitter relationships, but with a creative spin. I'd like to recap our session for you so you can get the feel for the courtship process we take here at KELTEK.
Topics: Vehicle Upfitting
So after working until 10:30 PM on a gunlock fitment problem and still not finding a solution, one of my leads and I hung our heads in defeat. What to do? We tried two different gunlock solutions in multiple configurations. As we locked up the shop we were quiet. Both of us were lost in thought - as we had been the last two hours of fighting gunlocks. It seemed no matter where or how we mounted it, the foot would not allow the vehicle’s printer to open up, which made the loading of paper impossible. Or the barrel of the gun would rub the headliner. Of course, both predicaments are unacceptable in the KELTEK world.
Topics: Vehicle Upfitting
Durango Deep Dive
Hey, I'm Chris, the shop manager here at KELTEK. After dozens of Durango upfits in the KELTEK shop, we want to take a moment and pass along some of our insight regarding installation nuances this vehicle has – which may have implications for your department’s budget and lead times. All vehicles present challenges for an upfitter, and the Durango is no different. KELTEK has identified 10 Durango installation dynamics for you to consider.
1. Push Bumper
When adding a push bumper to a pursuit Durango, it takes a bit longer than normal to remove the front skin of the vehicle because there are screws that are not easily accessible. Reassembly presents the same challenge because the fasteners are barely accessible and fairly fragile.
Both the exterior and the interior trim packages take longer to deal with than other squad makes. The Durango requires more of the trim to be removed to accomplish the clean build for which KELTEK is known. Though Dodge gets the “clean build” aspect correct with their hidden screws within the trim, this is an additional time issue that impacts the overall installation time and cost.
3. The ConsolePlain and simple, the OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) console is tricky to take out. The shifter is within the console, providing integration challenges for all of the needed squad technology within easy access for the officer. The Havis console shown below, though clean, illustrates the challenge with this vehicle – how many components can you identify missing from the pictured Durango below? (And how would you maneuver the shifter to include your department's needed technology?)
Durangos are not pre-wired for aftermarket add-ons that are the norm to most pursuit vehicles. Unlike Chargers, Explorers and Tahoes, Durangos are pursuit-rated but do not have the same tap options. Lighting options will need to be supported by an upgraded siren/light control module – KELTEK prefers the Whelen Carbide or CanTrol system.
Ford's Interceptor pre-wiring loom
5. The Battery
The Durango's battery is under the passenger seat – one of the least convenient locations for an upfitter. To provide a high level of integrity for your Durango upfit, the implication here is simple – additional hours to upfit your Durango.
6. Wire Harness
In addition to the trim issues described above, the vehicle presents challenges for the upfit wiring harness by not offering routing and placement systems for a public safety specific vehicle. In a nutshell, we must get very innovative in dealing with the KELTEK 180+ wire loom.
Placement options for a low-frequency siren does not exist on the Durango itself. In this instance, we’ll use Whelen’s “Howler” for example. The Howler location option on the Durango is limited to the push bumper. For example, with the Interceptor we can also mount, and hide, the Howler in the fender wells.
Making matters more challenging, choosing a push bumper mounted Howler eliminates the ability to put wraps on the push bumper and alters how we think about lighting a push bumper.
We tend to shy away from solutions that limit our departments’ choices, but with the Durango, we experience this challenge, including the integration of a low-frequency siren.
The lower frequency siren also has a very limited amount of mounting options on the Durango.
Because of the trim dynamics listed above, including headliner, it is simply more time-intensive to work on this area of the Durango as compared to other vehicle models. This also presents challenges to deal with the variety of antennas needed to support technology in the squad vehicle.
The complexity in working with the vehicle’s trim also impacts the vehicle’s lightbar installation. Due to the laborious nature of working with the trim and, specifically, the headliner, we duplicate the same challenges with the Durango’s lightbar.
10. Weapons mount
There is only room for a single gun lock in the Durango’s cockpit, mounted on the front of the cage. A dual gunlock is just too tight, and the configuration eliminates other common must-have elements found in the console. Officer safety and ergonomics is a priority in each upfit we perform, and a dual gunlock configuration sacrifices both of these.
Our Durango standard is a single gun mount for a front-mounted rifle. If a shotgun is required, we often mount behind the driver or store/mount in the rear of the vehicle.
KELTEK is here to partner with your department in all of your squad projects, from upfit to technology integrations, and when paying for the project in a single invoice or over several years.
Our goal isn’t to dissuade you from choosing a Durango squad vehicle, but rather to educate you on the reasons additional labor is often needed for a Durango upfit. We are happy to work with you to understand your vehicle needs and goals, and to provide you a quote for any vehicle you are considering so you have the best information possible in making your departmental decisions. We are proud to serve those that protect us.
Topics: Vehicle Upfitting
Duuunn dun...duuunnn dun....dun dun dun
Hopefully you uncovered the ominous Jaw's theme song I am trying to portray here. This week's topic covers the keys to a covert police vehicle build. Keeping these up-fits as stealth as possible can be a challenging task, but if anyone can do it's our expert team here at KELTEK. Here are my 3 Keys to a covert police vehicle up-fit...
Topics: Vehicle Upfitting
Time is Running Out, Do You Have a Plan?
The end of the fiscal year is upon us. Do you have a plan? It seems like every year, it sneaks up on departments and we want to help. In this post I want to share some great ideas on how to maximize your budget...
Ask any of the guys in our shop and they’ll tell you one of the most common calls we get is, “Our battery keeps dying.”
There's a great scene in the movie Ironman where Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) realizes that his power center has been rendered useless and he asks his assistant for help. She comes to his aid and asks, “Is that the thing keeping you alive?” Ironman’s response is, “It was, but it’s now an antique…”
Police work can be dangerous and unpredictable. Responding to active shooter calls can put patrol officers at risk, and delays can result in injury, casualties, or chaos. Many departments practice Immediate Action Rapid Deployment (IARD), a police tactic where first responders actively confront a developing high-risk crisis, as opposed to first responders assembling a cordon around the crisis zone and waiting for special response units like SWAT.
Having a rapid-deployment ballistic panel easily accessible and at the ready for your officers in every vehicle at all times adds an extra layer of readiness and protection to your force.
In our last blog post, Jesse talked about the S.M.A.R.T. method of success: a way to set concrete goals with measurable objectives. If you’re planning an upfit project for your fleet, this strategy can help you get the most for your money and best meet the needs of your organization. We already discussed how planning a vehicle upfitting project for your fleet starts with setting goals that are specific and measurable. Today, I'll cover how to also make your goals attainable, relevant, and time-bound.
The beginning of a new year is a great time to set goals and plan out your yearly budget. If vehicle upfitting is on your to-do list this year, use the S.M.A.R.T. philosophy to help you set and meet your goals on time and within budget.