Norcross Police Department’s Ford Mustang Mach-E® Project

Police Fleet Professional Magazine
Norcross Police Department's Ford Mustang Mach-E police car

 The Norcross Police Department (NPD) is a full-service municipal law enforcement agency that was formed in 1870. The Norcross Police Department works closely with the community to identify concerns and implement solutions relating to issues within the community. One of NPD’s biggest challenges is they don’t have a large staff of outreach officers; just one officer and that officer needs to connect with the older generation as much as the younger generation, the Latino community as much as the Korean community, and so on. The Ford Mustang Mach-E® project is just one of many ways NPD tries to connect with those they serve. It’s something that a lot of folks in Norcross think is a positive thing.

NPD is made up of 49 sworn positions, 18 of which are civilian. They cover a small 6.2-square-mile area in what (arguably) is the largest county in Georgia of over a million people. They have over 45,000 vehicles drive through the city every day and respond to over 35,000 calls for service a year. NPD is split in half—Support Services (SS) and Uniform Patrol (UP). UP includes Patrol Shifts, Traffic Unit, and Court Security. SS oversees the rest: Dispatchers, Criminal Investigations Division (CID), Property and Evidence, Community Outreach, Crime Analysis, Professional Standards Unit (PSU)/Training/Internal Affairs (IA)/Hiring.

Under the direction of Chief Bill Grogan, the NPD is always looking for new ways to build stronger connections with the community. This is something that is often very difficult to do given today’s existing political climate. That said, Chief Grogan and his police fleet upfit provider Tracy Gooch (“Gooch”) had an idea to prototype a new style of police vehicle and use it as a community outreach vehicle. The vehicle would be assigned to a single officer working an eight-hour shift, so charging downtime would not be an issue and the vehicle would be a shared response vehicle used for community events and some limited operational policing.

To make this new vehicle something that could positively enhance community engagement with police, it would have to be something very different than the regular patrol vehicle. In addition, Chief Grogan wanted to do something a little more environmentally friendly while staying true to the mission of the department. So, the Ford Mustang Mach-E was chosen, and not just the Mach-E base model but the Premium trim level. As the Mach-E continues to be chosen by many law enforcement agencies, Ford has gone on record stating that the Mach-E GT is the minimum spec for any police-style upfitting equipment.

Norcross Police Department's Ford Mustang Mach-E police car

Choosing the Mach-E Premium trim level brought a whole host of new upfit challenges for Gooch and his team. For example, how exactly do you attach a regular police lightbar to a vehicle with a very curved roof mostly made of glass? Well, with help from some dedicated equipment vendors like Whelen, Gooch was able to modify the Whelen Legacy lightbar feet to facilitate mounting on the unique Mach-E roof. The lightbar wiring was underneath the feet and fed through the Mach-E body trim all the way to the rear where it entered through factory grommets. The Mach-E low-profile strap kit was then used to secure the lightbar to the roof.

Once the lightbar was installed, it was apparent that light flashback was engulfing the interior of the vehicle, which was obviously unsafe, so a fix was necessary. This was resolved by installing a factory OEM Ford snap-in sunshade and headliner. This completely blocked the lightbar flashback while maintaining a clean factory interior look.

Chief Grogan’s direction to Gooch was simple: Make the build as close to a regular patrol vehicle as you can but also make it standout and take advantage of some of the vehicle’s uniqueness. Gooch complied with the chief’s direction by installing the same Setina push bar, dual Whelen® 100-watt siren speakers, same Whelen “Legacy” lightbar, and SoundOff interior lighting.

Norcross Police Department's Ford Mustang Mach-E police car

To make the Mach-E project unique, Gooch went to town by adding special under-hood “Frunklighting.” Controlled by four switches, the operator can turn on special green LED lighting for various Frunk configurations. Those same “OPS7” multi-colored lights were also installed under the vehicle for a real eye-catching look to the exterior. Gooch added some multi-colored Superior Signal blue/green lights to the frunk icebox as an accessory upgrade for community events. The OPS7 undercarriage lighting is not just for show; it also can be added to the activation of emergency lights during Code 3 operation. One of the other special-use cases is the ability for the officer to have the undercarriage lighting on while simply patrolling a neighborhood. The public can then easily see the police vehicle at night and be assured the police presence is close by.

To enhance the emergency lighting even more, Gooch installed an interior lightbar up inside the windshield with visor mounting hardware. The rear quarter glass has 3-inch SoundOff Signal® MPower® LED lights. The rear bumper has dual blue 8EVP lights, along with EVP lights around the license plate bracket. The rear window has a 24-inch Code3 Outliner™ lightbar. Inside the fender wells, SoundOff 4-inch MPower lights are mounted. On the outside of the fender wells (both front and rear) are SoundOff 4-inch MPower LED lights. Along with the lighting on the push bar, the vehicle front bumper has two Whelen surface-mount ION™ T-Series™ lights, plus two Superior Signal flat 6 lights.

Havis makes a custom console for the Mach-E, which is unique given the shifter dial center location in the Mach-E. The console has an equipment storage bin and room for a SoundOff 400 siren/light controller. No mobile radio is installed, as the officer uses their personal portable radio for communication.

Norcross Police Department's Ford Mustang Mach-E police car interior

Santa Cruz Gun rack with AR-15

Havis also constructed a laptop pedestal mount as to provide as close to regular patrol vehicle ergonomics as possible. Also inside is a custom Havis passenger headrest-mounted Brother printer used for traffic citation enforcement. Between the seats, Gooch has installed a Santa Cruz single long-gun rack that will hold an AR15 or a shotgun.

The vehicle also has a WatchGuard® Panoramic camera system, which includes a prisoner camera and a bodycam charger for the officer.

The telecommunications configuration is similar again to the NPD’s regular setup with Panasonic TOUGHBOOK®, Cradlepoint 4G modem, ChargeGuard power controller, and Panorama “BatWing” cellular/GPS/WiFi antenna. For electronic equipment storage, there is a rear-mounted Setina lockbox for all the controllers for various technology gear.

Setina lockbox

The back seat of the Mach-E is where things got interesting, according to Gooch. Tearing out the back seat was no easy chore as there isn’t really a handbook for such a task. After getting everything removed, Gooch was able to install a complete Setina kit with Setina back seat, Setina single prisoner compartment, and Setina interior door panels and window protectors.

On the exterior, Chief Grogan wanted this vehicle to clearly be identifiable as a Battery Electric Vehicle (BEV) while maintaining consistency of their standard police fleet graphics, so the same graphics were used but the colors were changed to incorporate green.

Norcross Police Department's Ford Mustang Mach-E police car

As the Mach-E becomes more mainstream in law enforcement, more equipment will become available that’s custom-designed for this vehicle. Gooch says at the time they started upfitting their Mach-E, not a lot of information on aftermarket equipment was out there. Gooch, who is a regular attendee to Police Fleet Expo every year, said, “If it wasn’t for attending the Police Fleet Expo in Austin, Texas last year, I would never have seen all the available Mach-E equipment that we ended up using.”

The Ford Mach-E GT version has been chosen by many departments as part of a green initiative over the past few years. Most notably, NYPD just purchased 160 Mach-E vehicles and has deployed them in all areas of the NYPD. For any agency still considering the Mach-E as a possible addition to their fleet, they should look at the last Michigan State Police (MSP) Vehicle Testing.

The Mach-E was Ford’s only electric submission at this year’s MSP test, featuring an all-wheel drive configuration and the Mach-E GT’s powertrain, which means that it utilizes dual-permanent magnetic motors, including an upgraded secondary electric motor that powers the front wheels for a combined output of 480 horsepower and 600 pound-feet of torque. Ford projects that the Mach-E GT will do 0 to 60 mph in 3.8 seconds and achieve an EPA-estimated 270 miles of range. Law enforcement use will likely change these figures and so will weather, as well as equipment demands. It will be interesting to see the results after NYPD has their fleet of 160 deployed for a year in the field.

MSP drivers managed to do 0 to 60 in 3.93 seconds flat and hit 100 mph in 12.23 seconds in the Mach-E. Contrary to popular belief, the Mach-E test vehicle only had police graphics; it did not have extra police lighting or equipment during the test. The Mach-E hit 122 mph in two miles, and after 18 miles of high-speed track testing, the Mach-E used 30% charge on each run; it wasn’t down to 30% charge left in the battery (i.e., it went from 80% down to 50% over the eight laps).

Likely, the heat on the electric motors is the reason for the diminishing speed after the five fastest laps. Charging was done after every eight laps. MSP called that performance “a good start” for EVs but noted that charging infrastructure and speeds will need to improve before electric vehicles can completely replace ICE-powered vehicles in this capacity.

Ford has already increased the Mach-E’s usable battery capacity for the 2023 model year, which should translate to more range, and it plans on continuously improving the EV in that regard moving forward. It should also be noted that while the Mach-E is not an officially sanctioned and pursuit-rated purpose-built police vehicle, Ford has released an upfitters document to assist fleet managers who will deploy one regardless. Ford recommends the purchase of the GT version and not the base model to ensure there is sufficient power available for aftermarket equipment demands.

Any agency that’s considering the addition of Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV) to their fleet should be aware of the unique upfitting requirements and available upfit equipment regardless of make or model chosen.

Many agencies have had great success adding BEVs to their command staff, administrative staff, and detective staff vehicle pools, but the jury is still out on BEVs in frontline policing. Charging infrastructure costs, charging downtimes, range anxiety, and battery safety are all still hot topics of debate. An agency that “hot seats” their fleet may have to purchase extra vehicles to accommodate charging times so logistically, BEVs can create complexity that ICE vehicles don’t have.

While governments at all levels continue downward pressure on fleet and police managers across North America, it is important to understand the facts about electrification. One point that is often overlooked with the BEV transition is the true comparison calculation of CO2 between an ICE vehicle and a BEV. On average, it takes 15–18 years depending on vehicle model for the BEV vehicle to produce less CO2 than the ICE vehicle due to the manufacturing process that creates the battery. So if you only keep your BEV police vehicle for 3–4 years, that vehicle is actually contributing more CO2 into the atmosphere than any ICE vehicle in your fleet. Watch here.

At the end of the day, the Norcross Police Department has a unique police vehicle that breaks down stereotypical barriers and actively stimulates positive interaction between the police and the community. Mission accomplished!

Tracy Gooch of Gooch’s Emergency Vehicle Solutions can be reached at Goochsevs@yahoo.com

NPD Chief Bill Grogan can be reached at bgrogan@norcrosspd.com

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