The Ford Transit Van is an economical solution when mass transport is required, making it a valuable part of many police fleets. The Transit Van is ideal for hauling prisoners, but it doesn’t come standard with a prisoner transport system. Ford is partnered with Havis to produce a prisoner transport model for fleet managers that may want a bit more control over the process. And, prisoner transport may not be the priority for some fleets, as the vehicle can also serve as a mobile command station or hold a lot of cargo with the right configuration.
The Transit Van is often thought of as a light commercial vehicle and has been in production since 1965. It has been a reliable workhorse since its creation and is one of the few models that can reliably and safely transport an entire squad of unlawful people. However, prisoner transport is not the only thing the vehicle is capable of, as all that space for people can be converted into space for cargo or for something else. This is especially true in urban areas, where departments need special resources like SWAT teams available. The Transit Van can get people to or from an incident, and also carry everything needed to respond appropriately. These are the configuration options that should merit consideration by fleet managers:
1. Prisoner transport – The Transit Van may be a bit more versatile than it first seems, but carrying prisoners is always going to be the most common application. As long as there have been police vehicles, there have been prisoner transports. Photos of the early versions go back nearly a century, so it’s not a new idea.
That said, modern prisoner transport systems are extremely sophisticated and maximize police and prisoner safety while en route. There are a couple of major transport system manufacturers, including American Aluminum and Havis. Havis makes a special effort to design its prisoner transport solutions for transport vans.
Havis’ prisoner transport systems are built with aluminum and can be designed with up to three prisoner compartments. In all, there’s room for 12 prisoners in Havis’ prisoner transport system, and they come standard with seatbelts, seat dividers and grab straps. The doors are made with heavy duty slam latches and there is an emergency hatch in the event of a crash. LED dome lights are also standard, and with the white powder coat finish, it’s easy to keep the seating and floor clean.
Havis also has a ton of optional accessories to enhance the Transit Van’s functionality. Some of those accessories include a rear heating and cooling system, audio and visual alarms when compartments are opened, intercom for listening to audio in the back and for speaking to prisoners, a metal pass through door, a loading/unloading rear light, a power vent for additional air flow, rear temperature monitoring, sound insulation and a video system for constant rear surveillance. In short, there is a way to completely secure the vehicle from every prisoner, no matter how unruly they are.
2. Storage drawers and lockers – An alternative to the prisoner transport role is transport for specialized police units, like SWAT teams. Those teams need a lot of gear to do their job, like tactical radios, additional body armor like helmets and assault webbing, advanced weaponry, flashbangs, special forms of ammunition (like nonlethal rounds), tear gas canisters and weapon attachments. Much of this gear is already worn before the team departs, but some of it is stored in the vehicle so that it can be kept track of and deployed quickly upon arrival.
When the Transit Van is used for special police units, a standard upfitting approach is adding storage drawers and lockers to the vehicle. CTECH and Tufloc are two manufacturers that can provide solutions in this area, with extremely durable storage options that can be mixed and matched to any degree. CTECH, in particular, has experience converting entire vehicles into impressive cargo management platforms, and can fit a set of cabinets and lockers to any purpose. This also means fitting those drawers and lockers with stalwart locking systems, which is something that Tufloc is adept at. In short, there are options for any fleet that keeps SWAT teams on hand.
3. Anti-theft technology – Any vehicle that carries prisoners or valuable cargo is going to be a target for particularly bold car thieves. Fortunately, there are anti-theft technologies that can put a stop to that in a hurry.
Tremco’s anti-theft system is perhaps the best known among law enforcement agencies, as it automatically engages when the vehicle is put in park. So if an officer needs to get out and unload a prisoner, the vehicle cannot not be taken out of park unless a covert, hidden switch is pressed first. This provides the best of both worlds, in that criminals will be stumped if they attempt to steal the vehicle, and officers can disengage the system in seconds.
Ford’s Transit Van is more of a specialist vehicle, but when properly outfitted, it can fill its spot with impressive effectiveness, whether it’s a prisoner transport vehicle, SWAT vehicle, or cargo hauling role.