"The safety of the officers on the street is our number one concern," says York Regional Police (YRP) Sergeant Lloyd Dow.
"I was a cop on the road for 17 years before I took on the job of fleet manager and I understand the importance of safety and comfort when it comes to patrol cars. After all this is their office and their home-away-from-home for 12 hours a day. The environment they find themselves in should be as secure, functional and comfortable as we can make it."
Dow's attitude and dedication is reflected in the current recognition Blue Line Magazine has given to the new YRP cruisers the 1,500 member police service is currently deploying. He has been a major supporter of the move toward replacing all front-line patrol cars with SUV-type vehicles and was part of the group instrumental in working with the executive command team and police services board on this transformational shift.
Managing a fleet of police vehicles is a multifaceted job, Dow points out, that begins long before vehicles are bought and continues well after they are in use. "The comfort and safety of every member of the force depends on the manner in which the vehicles are studied, acquired, suited-up and maintained," he notes.
After 23 years of fleet management, Dow well understands the intricacies and subtleties. Beginning his career as a patrol officer in 1974 he was called in to help the police fleet manager in 1991 and told it would be a two-week duty. Nine months later the incumbent manager decided to retire and he returned. Managers recognized his prior-to-policing experience, which included working for a relative's car dealership. His keen interest in the automobile industry was apparent and he was later confirmed in the position with a promotion to sergeant.
Accepting the position and the promotion came with a steep learning curve which, as Dow points out, continues to this day. The agency's sudden and dramatic growth led to fleet services becoming a full-time responsibility.
The YRP fleet presently consists of more than 700 vehicles. Other modes of transportation such as helicopters and marine vessels are excluded from his portfolio but Dow is regularly consulted on some of their aspects.
Networking with the officers in the field, senior management and manufacturers is one important aspect of Dow's duties. "Keeping up-to-date with recent technology is of vital importance to us," he says. "I work closely with the car manufacturers and act as a voice for the rank and file to address issues of concern."
Dow was a member of the Ford Police Advisory Board, is a sitting member of the General Motors Law Enforcement Product Counsel and keeps up an active dialogue with Chrysler and manufacturers of various types of vehicles.
Dow points out that he has always reported to command officers who appreciated the importance of the fleet and shared his concerns about officer safety.
"All my previous chiefs and the 12 staff members currently working with us have understood the importance of acquiring and maintaining a safe and a top-of-the-line equipped fleet and I have always appreciated their support," he concludes.