How to Install Tablets in Police Vehicles
Tablets or laptops, the choice is up to the fleet manager, but they both serve critical roles in police vehicles. Tablets are often preferred over laptops because of their smaller profile and footprint in the vehicle, which is handy for more compact pursuit vehicles. However, there is occasionally a tradeoff in functionality, as the tablet doesn’t come with a keyboard. This can be compensated for during installation, with a keyboard and keyboard mount. Overall, tablet installation is a pretty simple task. The most significant challenge may be running a bit of wire, but it’s still not much of a challenge.
Seven Easy Steps for Installing Tablets in Police Vehicles
A tablet mount goes into a police vehicle much like a laptop mount. Both are anchored inside the vehicle using a pedestal mount base, and this is where installation should start. It’s mostly elementary from there, and only basic tools and technical understanding will be needed to accomplish the task. Those tools include a socket wrench set, a set of standard wrenches, a Phillips head screwdriver and, in some cases, a set of Allen wrenches.
Here’s the nuts and bolts of what’s involved during tablet installation:
1. Install the pedestal mount base – The entire mount is secured in the vehicle using a mounting base that locks the pedestal down. The base is a solid piece of metal with several holes for threading hardware through, so it should be easy to differentiate from the mount’s other components. Alternatively, the pedestal base may come with a pair of feet.
The base is attached to the seat rails, which are arranged beneath either side of the passenger seat. To free up these rails for the mount base, push the seat back and pop off the plastic covers that protect the rail bolts and nuts. Once accessible, remove the nuts and bolts and keep them handy as they are going right back into the vehicle.
When the seat bolts are out of the way, lift the seat and push it back more, to free up some space. Slide the mount base under the seat and arrange it so a pair of the mounting holes sit over the seat bolt mounting spots. Thread the seat rail bolts and nuts through both holes and tighten the hardware. At this point, the base mount should be firmly anchored in the vehicle.
2. Find a spot for the power supply – The power supply will need to go somewhere, and preferably somewhere safe and out of the way. A popular spot for the power supply is inside the center console, as it will be protected from the occasional spill. The power supply can be mounted inside the console, which doesn’t take much effort. However, the wiring from the power supply will need to be connected to the vehicle’s power, and this can be tricky for people uncomfortable or unfamiliar with wiring processes. It’s best to bring in someone who has some familiarity with wiring, but it’s an easy job for anyone with a little experience. All that needs to be done is to set up the input and output sides, and connect the power supply to a fuse for protection.
3. Attach the height-limiting collar to the pedestal pole – The next phase is getting the keyboard mount platform onto the pedestal top, but before attaching the keyboard mount to the pedestal, a height-limiting collar needs to be placed on the keyboard mount pole. The height-limiting collar stops the keyboard mount from sliding below a set point, and it can be set to nearly any height. This is so the keyboard mount will clear the center console and any other installed equipment when it is moved from side to side.
In addition to the keyboard mount collar, there is a height-limiting collar for the tablet docking pedestal too. It is wise to configure this as well, so the officer knows exactly where the tablet and keyboard will be following installation.
4. Install the keyboard mount platform – When the height collars are in place, the keyboard mount and tablet mount only have to be slid into place. Each one is built with a pedestal pole designed to slip right into the pedestal base. Merely slide them in, install the hardware, tighten everything up and that’s done.
5. Place the strut arm – Some tablet pedestal mounts can be attached directly to the vehicle console for lateral stabilization, but those that don’t need to be mounted to the console or under the dash using a strut brace. This is done by attaching the strut arm to the pedestal using hardware, and then to the console or under the dash, also with a piece of hardware. In either case, it’s quick and effective. In rare cases, depending on the vehicle’s model and the tablet mount model, some improvisation may be needed to mount the strut base. The best way to avoid this by selecting a tablet mount designed for the vehicle.
6. Install the keyboard and tablet platforms – It’s all downhill from here, as the tablet and keyboard platforms can be readily installed using the hardware that comes with the mounting system. At this point, there should be plenty of room to work with, as the docking station and keyboard platform are elevated from the vehicle’s base. Once all hardware is placed and fastened tightly, configure the keyboard and docking station bases so that they are in a comfortable spot.
7. Arrange the cables so they don’t pull on the tablet – All cables attached to the tablet, including the power supply cable, should be run so that there is no pulling force on the port. This will ensure the tablet’s long-term performance.
Tablets offer a simple means of handling a great deal of information, but before they can be utilized properly in a police vehicle, they need to be precisely installed. Fortunately, it’s a job that most people can accomplish on their own, and with a simple set of tools.