How to install vehicle partitions and cages in police vehicles
Prisoner and cargo partitions are a staple in any police pursuit or patrol vehicle and can be an intimidating piece of hardware to install at first glance. They have to be, as partitions are expected to split the vehicle in two, keeping everything, or everyone, in the back. It’s a safety issue, then, which means that the partition has to be sturdy and locked in place. That has implications during installation, as partitions can be a bit bulky to handle and tricky to fit into a vehicle. Fortunately, top partition manufacturers have designed their products so that they don’t require special skills or tools to install.
The partition or cage installation process
Of course, every partition and every manufacturer designs their products just a bit differently, so there isn’t a single approach to installation. It depends on the product and the brand. However, there is a general process to follow when installing a partition, and there will typically only be minor deviations from this process for various manufacturers. Here is what installation generally looks like:
1. First, get the front row seats out of the way. It is practically impossible to install a partition if the driver and passenger seats are pushed back. Some prefer to remove them altogether, giving them even more space to work with, but this isn’t necessary. Pushing the seats as far forward as they can go is enough.
2. Second, install the floor bracket. The floor bracket is what anchors the partition inside the vehicle, so think of it as the foundation. The tricky part here is that the floor bracket is secured inside the vehicle by attaching it to the front row seats. There are a few nuts that lock the front row seats in the vehicle. These have to be loosened so that the seats can be lifted up. The floor bracket has a piece that extends out, and this piece has a hole through which a nut can be threaded. Thread that nut through the seat foundation and the floor bracket, and tighten it.
3. Third, install the pillar brackets – This next step is likely the most involved one, and the exact steps involved depend on the vehicle model. However, in addition to the floor brackets, pillar brackets are needed to lock the partition in place. This normally involves the B pillars, though installation may be further back in larger vehicles.
To access the pillar, the seat belt bracket will first have to be taken out. This is something that installers will have to go to the vehicle manual for, as it is different for every model. In most cases, though, a powered drill will be needed to remove the screws anchoring the seat belt bracket.
Once the seat belt bracket is removed, the pillar bracket slides into a now exposed mounting point. It looks like an elongated oval. The pillar bracket has an end with a small hole and an end with a large nut. The end with the large nut should be exposed once the pillar bracket is slid into the pillar. Once the pillar bracket is in place, anchor it in using a socket wrench.
4. Fourth, prepare the partition for installation – Now that the brackets are in place, the vehicle is ready to take the partition. However, before it goes into the vehicle, it’s best to put the partition together. It’s much easier to get this done outside the vehicle than inside, and partition assembly is a cinch. The main piece of the partition is a single mass of steel or high strength aluminum, so it doesn’t need to be put together. However, it comes with a pair of edge guards that provide extra protection to the officers. These need to be attached to the main partition body.
This is the easiest part of the job, as the edge guards are built with bolt mounting points. Thread a bolt through each one, and the edge guard is in place. The only thing to keep in mind is ensuring that the edge guards are facing the right way. The edge guards are built with a concave design, and this concave should face toward the vehicle’s front.
5. Fifth, place the partition in the vehicle – This part will take some muscle, and is where a second person should be brought in to help. Steel partitions can weigh more than 70 pounds, and it takes a little precision to get the partition into the vehicle, so an extra pair of hands is essential.
The partition, once assembled, is slid into the vehicle. It’s best to do this at an angle, with the back of the partition resting against the rear seat. Once inside, the partition is placed on top of the floor brackets. Most partitions are built with a pair of tubes, each designed to slide over the floor bracket.
6. Sixth, mount the partition to the pillar brackets – At this point, the rest of the job is simple. The partition’s main body has a pair of spots for threading bolts through, one on each side. Thread the bolt through the partition and through the pillar bracket, which also has a spot available for a bolt. Stick a nut on each bolt and tighten it, and the partition is now in place.
7. Seventh, install the base piece – The only piece left is the base, which is placed at the bottom and seals off any potential access to the underside of the front row seats. This is also simple, as there are multiple spots at the bottom of the partition where the base piece is mounted to, with the same type of bolts used with the pillar brackets.
Again, this is generally how installation goes, though the exact process will differ depending on the partition model and vehicle model. Fortunately, it is something that can be done without any special tools, and without a major time commitment. However, installing a partition is a two person job, for safety and efficiency reasons, so recruit a friend for the best results.