Install Laptops in Police Vehicles
An officer’s laptop is their second brain, offering access to all of the data that’s now needed to perform patrol duties. As such, it’s a critical piece of the police vehicle puzzle, and one that needs to be set up just right inside the vehicle for optimal usage. There are two main challenges here – comfort and durability. Operating a laptop with one hand while keeping an eye on everything isn’t natural for most officers and something they have to get used to. If the laptop is comfortable to use, this will reduce the learning curve, as well as the potential for repetitive stress injuries. And durability is also a clear concern, given the rough environments officers often find themselves in. This is particularly true if the vehicle is expected to do some occasional off-roading.
Installing a laptop in a police vehicle means first setting up the mounting base. The base is responsible for holding the laptop in place, and for providing the kind of maneuverability that the officer needs for their comfort. The laptop mount also ensures the laptop is kept safe and sound, even during bumpy rides. Setting up the laptop mount is where most of the work comes from.
Eight Steps for installing a laptop mount in a police vehicle
Fortunately, just about anyone can install a vehicle laptop mount. In a world where patrol vehicles are expected to be outfitted with sophisticated lighting, audio systems and a host of cutting edge electronics, laptop mounts present elementary-level technical challenges. Installing one only takes a single person and can be handled with a few basic tools. These tools include metric socket wrench sets, a few smaller wrenches (7/8-inch and 1/2-inch are common), a standard Allen Wrench set and a Phillips head screwdriver. The exact tools needed and installation steps will vary with the mount brand and model, but these steps and tools represent the general process, so only minor changes will be required from mount to mount.
This is what the installation process usually looks like:
1. Prepare the seat base for the mount base – The mount base is installed beneath the front side passenger seat and is what keeps the mount in place and anchored. If the base plate is not properly secured, the entire mount will vibrate during vehicle operation, increasing the likelihood of damage to the laptop.
The mount base is secured in place using the passenger-side seat bolts. Plastic covers may need to be removed before they can be accessed, but they sit right below the front end of the passenger seat, and are attached at the end of the seat rails. The plastic covers, if present, can be popped off with a little effort. Once accessible, remove the seat bolts and nuts, taking care to hold onto them, as they will be needed to attach the base to the seat rails.
2. Install the mount base - Once the nuts and bolts are removed, lift the seat and slide the mount base under it, positioning it between the seat rails. The mount base is made with mounting holes, and these should be aligned with the spots intended for the seat rail bolts. Align the seat rail and mount base holes, and thread the seat bolts through both, tightening the bolts with a socket wrench.
3. Assemble the offset bracket and mount pole – This should be done before anything else is placed in the vehicle. It’s a matter of space and ease of assembly. The offset bracket and mount pole go together easily, as they only have to be pieced together with the included hardware. Get the wrenches out, thread the nuts and tighten them.
Once the offset bracket and mount pole are together, gently attach the shaft collar to the inner pole. It doesn’t need to be in tight just yet, but connecting the shaft collar now will make things easier for the next steps.
4. Connect the offset bracket to the mount base – Again, this is just about attaching the two pieces together with hardware, so it doesn’t take a special effort. Align the mounting holes built into the mount base and offset bracket, thread the hardware through the holes and tighten them. Once done, the pole and base should act like a single piece.
5. Install the top of the offset bracket and prepare the docking station mount – This piece goes on the very top of the offset bracket, and includes the lever used for swinging the laptop around inside the vehicle. The offset bracket’s top is attached to the offset bracket base with more hardware.
The docking station is the piece that will interface directly with the laptop, and it is secured to the top of the offset bracket using its own mount. Attach this mount to the top of the motion device, which should still be separate from the rest of the laptop mount.
6. Install the docking station to the offset bracket – The motion device and docking station mount, connected now, are attached to the top of the offset bracket. The laptop mount is ready to take the docking station, but a little work needs to be done to it before the laptop is attached.
The laptop’s power supply must be secured to the docking station, before installing it on the offset bracket. Once it is, the docking station is secured to the mounting bracket and motion device combo.
7. Attach support collars and support arm – Every laptop mount comes with support collars to hold the laptop in place during movement. These are also installed using simple hardware and tools, and there are several that need to be placed.
The support arm provides exactly that, a bit more support. It is attached to one of the support collars and runs under the dash, where it is secured to the vehicle using an L bracket.
8. Dock the laptop to the laptop mount – This is the home stretch. Slide open the docking head door on the bottom of the laptop. Place the laptop on the docking station, aligning the front of the computer with the mount’s front hooks. The laptop should then be gently placed on top of the docking connector, exposed with the docking head door now open. There should be a docking latch on the mount. Flip it, and secure the laptop with the provided key and lock. This will keep the laptop from coming free of the docking station.
There it is, now the laptop should be ready for use in the vehicle. Some wiring will need to be run from the laptop’s power supply to an auxiliary power management system, but this is easy to figure out.
Getting a laptop into a police vehicle is essential, but not difficult. With meticulous observation of installation instructions, it’s much like putting a piece of furniture together.