St. Louis Law Enforcement Fleet Professionals Manage Crisis for The Safety Of All

In times of great tragedy, law enforce­ment agen­cies are called upon to have emer­gency ser­vices avail­able to all, and that can be a chal­lenge when need is at its peak. Such was the sit­u­a­tion in Fer­gu­son, MO where civ­il unrest brought a height­ened need for law enforce­ment, and addi­tion­al police vehi­cles were assigned to pro­vide sup­port for the safe­ty and well-being of every cit­i­zen.

Yet there are still the needs and respon­si­bil­i­ties of the dai­ly beat, the emer­gen­cies that are no less trag­ic but are part of the reg­u­lar com­mis­sion of the job. For these times when a greater pres­ence is required, the fleet man­agers of St. Louis’ law enforce­ment, and all across North Amer­i­ca, are pre­pared to pro­vide more. For them, “no” is not an option.

“Every­one has been putting in twelve-hour days, and all the rec(reation) days and vaca­tion days for offi­cers have been sus­pend­ed dur­ing this sit­u­a­tion,” said Michele Ryan, CAFM, Super­vi­sor of the Vehicle/Supply Unit for St. Louis Coun­ty Police Depart­ment. “I get one rec day a week, and on mine I go in to do my nor­mal work duties.”

Ryan, a Trustee for NAFA Fleet Man­age­ment Asso­ci­a­tion, has been involved with the respon­si­bil­i­ties of set­ting up the St. Louis Police mobile com­mand cen­ter, as well as sup­ply­ing the cen­ter with neces­si­ties like com­put­er con­nec­tions, med­ical sup­plies, cool­ing units to com­bat oppres­sive sum­mer heat, and even sun­screen. When it is all done, Ryan will also be respon­si­ble for clos­ing every­thing down. “That calls for sched­ul­ing the pub­lic works peo­ple to take care of the park­ing lot we’ve been using for the com­mand cen­ter, for refur­bish­ment in areas of the build­ing we’ve been using, and much more. I’ll coor­di­nate it all to make sure it looks as if we were nev­er here.” Ryan’s efforts for the police depart­ment have been coor­di­nat­ed through the Emer­gency Oper­a­tions Cen­ter in St. Louis Coun­ty.

A sit­u­a­tion such as this is, accord­ing to Ryan, is dif­fi­cult if not impos­si­ble to plan for. There­fore, quick think­ing and recog­ni­tion of what the moment entails are essen­tial. “(On the first night) we imme­di­ate­ly put out an all-depart­ment email request­ing that new cars not be sent to the post in Fer­gu­son.” Aware that dam­age to the vehi­cles was inevitable, only the vehi­cle glass was replaced, and the same vehi­cles were recy­cled night­ly, pro­tect­ing the fleet from exten­sive dam­age and repair/replacement prob­a­bil­i­ty.

NAFA’s Law Enforce­ment Group (of which Ryan is a mem­ber) is com­prised of, and is focused on, fleet man­agers who have police, fire, EMS, or res­cue vehi­cles in their fleet. NAFA Mem­bers are respon­si­ble for the con­tin­ued func­tion­al­i­ty of over 180,000 police sedans; 43,000-plus emer­gency vehi­cles; and 460,000 pieces of spe­cial­ty equip­ment used by law enforce­ment fleets. When the sit­u­a­tion demands, they also go above and beyond their tra­di­tion­al duties.

“It’s been a mat­ter of essen­tial­ly set­ting up and run­ning a small city,” Ryan said. “At our busiest, we were run­ning approx­i­mate­ly 200 police offi­cers through the com­mand post each day, and about 500 overnight. All of them need bath­room facil­i­ties, cool­ing cen­ters, the med­ical tent with med­ical sup­plies, food, as well as things you wouldn’t guess, like sun­screen and con­tact lens flu­id.”

NAFA Fleet Man­age­ment Asso­ci­a­tion thanks the mem­bers of its Law Enforce­ment Group (LEG) who strive dai­ly to pro­vide the means for these cus­to­di­ans who serve the com­mu­ni­ty. The abil­i­ty to arrive on time to help — from some­thing as com­mon­place as when a car breaks down unex­pect­ed­ly, to the most extra­or­di­nary of cir­cum­stances — requires law enforce­ment and pub­lic safe­ty vehi­cles that are ready to run right now. NAFA’s LEG Mem­bers from all across North Amer­i­ca accept this chal­lenge to keep police cars active and on-call for every cit­i­zen in their worst hour, with respect and good­will to all.


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