Northern California Police Department Shares Lessons in EV Charging

Source: www.gulfoilandgas.com 5/23/2024, Location: North America

Nestled in the heart of northern California’s Mendocino Coast, Fort Bragg is a charming small town with a tight-knit community and a slower pace of life. Unlike other small towns, however, Fort Bragg boasts historical significance, a sprawling coastline, incredible ocean views, and enough tourists to double—even triple—the approximately 6,900-person population1 during high-traffic months, according to Fort Bragg Police Chief Neil Cervenka.

With 17 sworn officers on staff, the Fort Bragg PD falls comfortably within the most common size range for local police departments in the U.S.2 But just like with the city itself, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to this department. The officers share eight marked police vehicles amongst themselves, and in fall 2022, the department committed to replacing half of its police fleet with 2023 Ford F-150® Lightning® Pro Special Service Vehicles (SSVs), America’s first electric pickup truck purpose-built for police work.

Though Cervenka knows of other agencies using electric police vehicles, he says he’s confident Fort Bragg is an early adopter. When he first began searching for an electric police vehicle, he wasn’t expecting to land on a pickup truck.

“I’d never used a pickup for patrol work, nor had any of the officers in Fort Bragg, but it made sense for many reasons,” Cervenka said. The rugged coastline of California often calls for four-wheel drive, and the truck’s high ground clearance, ample frunk (i.e., front trunk), and towing capabilities make it a good fit for day-to-day police work in Fort Bragg. Plus, the 2023 F-150 Lightning Pro SSV with the available extended-range battery has a zero-to-60 mile per hour time of under four seconds.

To charge the EVs, the Fort Bragg PD is leveraging an EV incentive program offered by a local utility provider to construct electrical infrastructure and eventually install Levels 2 and 3 chargers at the police station. Due to supply chain delays, however, the department is currently using Level 1 chargers with 220-volt outlets. According to Cervenka, officers can plug in their trucks at the end of their shift and return to a fully charged vehicle the next day.

This EV charging strategy works just fine in the interim. “We’re a small city, and it’s common for officers to drive the truck for two or three 12-hour shifts without needing to recharge them,” Cervenka said. And when officers are out in the field and need to recharge their battery, the F-150 Lightning Pro SSV’s Connected Built-In Navigation4 system not only plots the fastest route to a destination—including public EV charging stops—it also estimates how long the driver will need to stay at each charger. Importantly, drivers can even filter their routes by charging station level (1, 2, or 3), which affects the speed at which the vehicle recharges.


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