Monday, November 8, 2010

A better climate in arrest vans

For those who have been arrested in Kansas City on a freezing cold or burning hot day, the short trip to jail hasn’t been a comfortable one. Our 20 or so arrest vans do not have heat or air conditioning in the prisoner compartment. We had installed fans, but they often weren’t enough.

A small group of officers and a sergeant in the Metro Patrol Division decided to do something about this. This past summer, they rigged up a PVC pipe that attached to the air vent in the cabin and came out in the prisoner compartment so arrestees could get some air conditioning. When one of our Fleet Operations Unit supervisors saw what they’d done, he engineered an even better system with a fan that circulates the cabin’s heat or air-conditioning into the prisoner compartment. As one of the officers who drives the van said, “It’s the same air the officers are breathing.”

About four of the arrest vans have been retrofitted with the system thus far, and more will be as they’re brought in for service. It costs only about $50 to make this big difference in prisoner comfort. All new vans are being ordered with the air circulation system already in place.

I was very impressed when I heard these officers cared so much about the treatment of people who have just been arrested. They spent their own time and money to rig up a system to keep prisoners cool or warm. I was even more impressed when our Fleet Operations Unit took their idea and ran with it, coming up with an inexpensive and more effective way to deliver heating and cooling. In the grand scheme of things, this is a little adjustment, but it speaks volumes of the kinds of compassionate and problem-solving people we have working at this department.

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