The Chevy Silverado is relatively young compared to some of the other police vehicles on the market, but it is a workhorse that has a home among many police and fire fleets. As a pickup, it offers a clear advantage in equipment handling and storage, and though it isn’t pursuit rated, it holds its own as a patrol vehicle. It is particularly adept as a police or fire chief vehicle, given its ability to facilitate mobile command duties. But before it is thrust into the field, there are some obvious upfitting choices to be made, and with them, fleet managers can ensure the Silverados in their fleet are highly capable and secure, wherever they go.
The Silverado is available in three models, the 1500, the 2500 and the 3500. The 1500 model is the one that gets the heaviest use by law enforcement agencies, as it is available in a Special Service package. The package includes a 5.3L V8 engine, an auxiliary battery, an oil cooling system, improved brakes, and aero shutters, which close to provide additional fuel economy and reduce drag. When internal cooling is required, the shutters automatically open.
The 2500 and 3500 aren’t pursuit rated, but they can serve effortlessly in a support role. That’s because both provide excellent cargo hauling capacities. The 2500, for example, can manage a payload of 3,233 pounds and has a towing capacity of 18,000 pounds when tweaked properly. The 3500 is even more intimidating, with a staggering 5,760 pound cargo payload and a 23,300 pound towing capacity with the right configuration.
Chevrolet also has optional equipment additions, like underseat storage, extra wiring provisions for sirens or lamps, extended mirrors, spot lamps and additional interior lighting. What does come standard, though, are wiring provisions that make it easy to upfit the Silverado. But even here, Chevy has an optional addition for upfitter switches, allowing for custom upfitting that is efficient and easy to manage. And as for custom upfitting, there are several additions that fleet managers should consider for any Silverado in their fleet, including:
1. Cargo solutions – Equipment storage and access is what the Silverado is primarily about, so it makes sense that fleet managers should target both when configuring the pickup. Although cargo solutions are a perfectly fine addition to the 1500 model, they are ideal for the heavy duty 2500 and 3500 models. A popular and inexpensive option is a cover for the truck bed, which will allow police and fire personnel to take full advantage of the Silverado’s bed, while keeping everything safe.
Beyond a truck bed cover, an obvious upfitting choice is a cargo storage solution. Cargo drawers, like those produced by Truckvault, are fully customizable and can be scaled up to any degree. Truckvault also offers an extreme weather option, which is a must for departments operating in tough environments.
Custom cargo drawers can be configured for equipment, weapons, ammunition or radio storage, and they can also be fitted with things like a drawing board or laptop mount for mobile command purposes. A bed cover multiplies custom cargo drawer options, as there is much more room to work with.
2. Laptop mounts – Although the Silverado is large enough inside to accommodate a pair of officers with little difficulty, that extra room is ideal for a durable laptop mount. Havis is a reputable laptop mount manufacturer for the Silverado and can provide several mounting options for any space requirement.
A dash mount kit, for example, is compact enough to keep the passenger seat freed up for another officer and is ideal for fleets operating with touch screen laptops or tablets, like the Microsoft Surface. Havis also produces dash mounts that offer swing out capability, so they can be brought closer to the officer when needed.
And, of course, there is the imposing telescoping mount, with heavy duty laptop anchoring clips and welded steel base. The articulating arms are also made with steel, providing additional mount stability and allowing the officer to precisely set position. This is important for countering the kind of vibration that the vehicle is likely to exert on the mount, especially when operating on rough terrain.
3. Lightbars and lightheads – The Silverado is a police and fire chief vehicle in most instances, so it doesn’t need extensive lighting additions. However, a lightbar or a few lightheads can provide an adequate level of visibility when responding to an emergency.
Tomar is a respected manufacturer of lighting systems, with its Scorpion lightbar serving as the company’s flagship product. The Scorpion is available in several lengths and is built with a traffic preemptor. It also comes with traffic director modes, which makes sense for a vehicle responding to a developing situation.
4. Traffic preemption – Traffic preemption is an important feature on police and fire chief vehicles, where a quick response is often required. Optical traffic preemption is something that Tomar also develops, and can be used to alert traffic signals of the Silverado’s presence, prioritizing it as it enters the intersection.
Tomar’s optical preemption detectors are sophisticated pieces of technology, with military-grade sensors capable of unmatched detection performance. Tomar’s optical traffic preemption hardware is also fully shielded from the environment, so it can handle dust, water and vibration with little trouble. It’s also easy to aim, with a swivel head that can be pointed in any direction.
Of course, Tomar also develops the optical signal processors that are designed to pick up signals from Tomar optical emitters. They are built with active reflection suppression, so they will not inadvertently provide cross street preemption. This is something only Tomar offers.
5. Anti-theft systems – Anti-theft should be a priority when a fleet operates a Silverado or two. Police pickups are high-value targets by thieves, as the allure of stealing a vehicle and its impressive cargo is hard for some criminals to pass up. For this reason, an anti-theft system should be in place.
Tremco’s anti-theft system is a popular choice in this regard. It automatically activates when the vehicle is put in park, even when the engine is running. Until deactivated, it is impossible to shift the vehicle out of park. Deactivation is performed by pushing a covert floor switch that is hidden from plain view. It blends in perfectly with surrounding equipment, so it doesn’t represent a vulnerable spot.
The Silverado is an impressive vehicle to begin with, but with the proper configuration approach, it can be turned into a monster. A monster that is unassailable and packed to the teeth with useful technology.