3-7 Police Vehicles

Policy Type: Local

Responsible Office: Chief of Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department

Initial Policy Approved: 6/26/2014

Current Revision Approved: 7/31/2019



The purpose of this written directive is to establish guidelines for VCUPD employees regarding use of department vehicles. This written directive addresses guidelines for motor vehicle issuance, use and maintenance, other general requirements, along with operational procedures relating to emergency response.


Accountability Statement

All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive. Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action. Responsibility rests with the division supervisor to ensure that any violations of policy are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiated. 


Motor Vehicle Issuance

  1. The issuing of motor vehicles is the responsibility of the Chief of Police and the executive command staff following periodic fleet meetings regarding status and distribution/redistribution of vehicles.
  2. Replacement of motor vehicles will be determined based on mileage, age, and/or condition.
  3. Generally, the use of unmarked fleet vehicles will be limited and any such limitations will be governed by the Chief of Police.
  4. Any requests to deviate from the requirements set forth in this written directive must be approved by the Chief of Police.
  5. Vehicle Purchasing and Acquisitions
    1. A Vehicle Request Form is required to purchase or lease a vehicle. The completed form must be signed by the Director of Business Operations and Administration and the Chief of Police, and then forwarded to VCU’s Parking and Transportation Fleet Manager.
    2. Once the request has been approved and signed by the agency’s transportation officer and the VP for Administration, the fleet manager (who is responsible for keeping all records relating to the justification for vehicle purchases) will forward the form to VCU Procurement Services. VCU Procurement Services will notify the vendor of the approved vehicle purchase.
    3. The Property Manager will provide assistance, as needed, with fueling and VCU parking deck access windshield decals for all vehicles. These decals must be maintained in each vehicle.
    4. All vehicles must be registered to and titled to VCU and all vehicle titles shall be maintained by Fixed Asset Accounting in the VCU Controller’s Office, with a copy maintained by the Property and Evidence office.
    5. If the vehicle is being purchased to replace an existing vehicle, the existing vehicle must be disposed of in accordance with the surplus property procedures delineated in the Department of General Services, Office of Fleet Management Services’ Policies and Procedures Manual and managed by VCU’s Parking and Transportation Fleet Manager.
    6. The Property and Evidence office is responsible for notifying Fixed Asset Accounting, Parking and Transportation, and Insurance and Risk Management of any vehicle acquired through any and all acquisition methods (even when payment is not required), including, but not limited to, vehicles acquired through donations, state or federal surplus or excess property procedures, under a sponsored project or similar contractual processes, and vehicles acquired by asset seizures and forfeitures that may also be sold at auction.
  6. Vehicles assigned to administrative personnel will remain equipped as they were prior to being assigned to the administrative person. The radio and antenna configuration will remain as it was prior to the reassignment, unless it is determined that the communications and electronic equipment should be swapped out for use in another vehicle.
  7. The swapping of department vehicles will only occur when it is determined to be in the best interests of the department and must be approved by the Chief of Police. If the department transfers a state vehicle, a VCUPD Inventory Update for Fixed Assets must be completed by the Property Manager. The notice to VCU Parking and Transportation and VCU Insurance & Risk Management, and completion of any required form(s) must be copied to and maintained by the Property Manager in accordance with applicable record retention procedures.
  8. Vehicles may be assigned to civilian employees at the discretion of the Chief of Police or their designee and in accordance with the Department of General Services, Office of Fleet Management Services’ Policies and Procedures Manual.
  9. The Chief of Police may authorize the use of certain state vehicles for take-home use by sworn personnel when such use fits legitimate law enforcement needs.
    1. All take-home vehicle usage must be approved by the Chief of Police or their designee.
    2. In order to utilize a take-home vehicle, the sworn employee must currently be in on-call status, which requires the employee to immediately return to work, if needed, or to respond directly to the location of the emergent situation that initiated the response.
    3. Sworn employees utilizing a take-home vehicle must reside within a 20-mile radius of the department’s headquarters.
    4. Take-home vehicle usage will be evaluated on an annual basis by the office of the Chief of Police.
    5. The Chief of Police may place additional restrictions on the use of take-home vehicles as needed.


Motor Vehicle Use

  1. The use of a state-owned or a state-leased automobile shall be limited to official police business.
  2. Motor vehicles owned or leased by the Commonwealth and operated by this department will be used only for police business, except in cases of a bona fide emergency. Supervisors will employ discretion with regard to cases of bona fide emergencies and will be held responsible for the use of motor vehicles by employees under their supervision.
  3. While operating or while a passenger in the front seat, employees shall properly wear the safety belts included as equipment in state-owned and state-leased vehicles. In addition, the operator of such vehicles shall require other authorized front-seat passengers to use the safety belt in accordance with §46.2-1094 of the Code of Virginia.
  4. Employees operating the issued vehicle shall be remain mindful of their operation, appearance and conduct, keeping their hands and arms within the vehicle at all times, except when giving signals as required by law.
  5. Whenever using the vehicle, all police radios must be turned on with sufficient volume to be heard.
  6. Sworn employees must wear proper attire should it become necessary to perform a police function.
  7. When operating the vehicles, all sworn employees are required to carry their department-issued weapon(s).
  8. In addition to the safe driving regulations delineated in VCU’s Vehicle Accident Prevention and Safety policy, tobacco use of any kind is prohibited within the vehicle (including electronic smoking devices, such as vape pens).
  9. Energy Conservation
    1. The following is a listing of the fuel conservation items that are to be observed in the operation of department vehicles. All employees operating department-owned vehicles must observe all of the following (to the extent possible):
      1. Avoid engine idling (examples: working radar in stationary mode; observing traffic; issuing summons; investigating crashes; melting snow, ice and frost from windshield and windows; excessive engine warm-up).
      2. Avoid excessive acceleration, excessive speed and hard braking during routine driving. Decelerate when a known stop is to be made.
      3. Use as few cars as possible while traveling to meetings, schools, and other assignments in which it is unnecessary for each employee to have an assigned car. Sergeants will make transportation arrangements when scheduling employees for such assignments.
      4. Reduce trunk and backseat load as much as possible.
      5. Do not overfill fuel tanks.
      6. Maintain a steady speed while driving on open highways. Use cruise control when operating vehicles so equipped.
      7. Upon hire, civilian employees who are authorized to operate department vehicles must complete the VCU Driver Safety Training course as prescribed by Vehicle Accident Prevention and Safety Policy.
      8. When sworn and civilian employees who are issued or assigned vehicles are on leave that exceeds 30 days, their issued or assigned vehicles will be returned to their office of assignment for use as spare vehicles or reassignment to another employee as appropriate. Exceptions to this policy may be granted by the Chief of Police.


Motor Vehicle Maintenance

  1. Employees assigned a vehicle are directly responsible for its proper care and maintenance and will make a visual inspection of the vehicle before each tour of duty.
    1. In accordance with VCUPD From 52B, employees are responsible for inspecting the vehicle at the start of each shift. The shift supervisors must ensure that each vehicle is inspected bi-weekly for all items indicated on the VCUPD Form 52A.
    2. Ensure patrols vehicles are washed at least one time per week, and at least every other week for administrative and security vehicles, or as needed.
    3. Ensure that all required equipment is present and adequately maintained each time a unit is assigned, and immediately report any discrepancies to a supervisor.
    4. In accordance with this policy, ensure that all required documents, cards and decals are present and adequately maintained each time a unit is assigned, and report any discrepancies to a supervisor. These items include: vehicle registration, inspection, VCU and Virginia Accident reporting forms, gas cards, car wash tickets, and deck access windshield decals.
  2. The Property Manager is responsible for ensuring all vehicles owned or leased by the department are maintained on a routine basis. At minimum, this preventive maintenance program should comply with the manufacturer’s guidelines found in the vehicle owner’s manual and annual state inspection requirements. Routine maintenance for department vehicles will include all of the following:
    1. Lube, oil and filter change every 5,000 miles for patrol vehicles and every 6 months or 5,000 miles for administrative vehicles
    2. Rotate tires every 6,000 miles, or as needed
    3. Service transmission every 24,000 miles for patrol vehicles and every 50,000 miles for administrative vehicles
  3. Department vehicles can be serviced by internal resources such as the VCU’s Parking and Transportation Vehicle Maintenance Facility or by private maintenance facilities at the discretion of the department. The department must keep a vehicle maintenance log on all state vehicles, unless the state vehicle is maintained by the Virginia Dept. of General Services. At minimum, the department’s log should include all of the following information:
    1. Date of service
    2. Vehicle odometer reading at time of service
    3. Description of service
    4. Company providing service
    5. Cost of the service
    6. Any other relevant information to fully document the maintenance service provided
  4. No equipment will be installed on the vehicle unless it is authorized or issued by the department.
  5. No alterations to the vehicle, including the addition/removal or rearrangement of emergency lighting, MDT, or camera equipment, will be made without prior authorization from the department. Any apparent engineering deficiencies will be brought to the attention of the Property Manager. The Property Manager will make every effort to resolve the deficiency with representatives of the manufacturer and keep the employee informed throughout the process.
  6. Employees should not carry aerosol spray cans in vehicles during periods of excessive heat.
  7. Supervisors will make a visual inspection of each motor vehicle monthly, noting the cleanliness, general condition, and operational readiness. If the vehicle is equipped with an MDT, the designated supervisor will check the laptop to ensure the firewall is turned on and the equipment is operational. If any equipment issues are identified during inspection, the officer must note the issues on the vehicle inspection sheet and email the VCUPD IT Manager directly (if during normal business hours). If after normal business hours, the officer must still include the issue on the vehicle inspection sheet in order for the Property and Evidence office to notify the VCUPD IT Manager of the identified equipment issue(s).
  8. If a vehicle is damaged or requires additional maintenance and/or repairs due to an employee’s failure to provide proper care and maintenance, the department may require the subject employee to reimburse the department for all or part of any expenses required to repair or replace the vehicle. Information concerning each case and potential reimbursement, if assessed, will be forwarded to the Chief of Police for review.
  9. All marked police vehicles assigned to sworn employees shall be equipped with a minimum of the following:
    1. Roof-mounted light bar (blue in color), blue flashing lights mounted on the grill and/or side mounts, and siren
    2. Spotlight and rear deck lights (visible when trunk is open)
    3. Outside speaker and public address system
    4. Lug wrench and jack
    5. Inside dome light
    6. Spare tire
    7. Safety belts/shoulder harness
    8. Flares
    9. First Aid Kit
  10. No person, other than the Property Manager, will be allowed to install, adjust, alter, or repair radio equipment owned by the department without authorization from the Director of Emergency Management and Communications.
  11. No person, other than the IT Manager, will be allowed to install, adjust, alter, or repair computer and/or camera equipment owned by the department.
  12. Sworn employees will immediately report equipment problems and failures to the IT Manager. If the mobile or portable radio equipment is not functioning properly, the sworn employee shall obtain an alternate vehicle to use until the equipment is repaired.
  13. No items or material will be placed on or attached to any police electronics or equipment at any time.
  14. No alterations will be made to any electronics or equipment, unless the changes are authorized by the IT Manager.
  15. All radios must be turned off when the battery is being charged with a charging device and when the vehicle is being started with jumper cables, as severe damage may result if the radio equipment is left on.
  16. Towing and roadside assistance for Office of Fleet management Services (OFMS) leased vehicles (e.g. 528L/529L):
    1. If an OFMS leased vehicle breaks down and needs to be towed, the driver must contact the Vehicle Management Control Center (VMCC) at 1-866-6866 (then press 1)
      1. VMCC will arrange for the vehicle to be towed to the VMCC garage at 2400 W. Leigh St.
      2. Supervision should ensure that the keys are placed in the night drop box, which is located near the rear of the shop on the W. Leigh St. side of the building.
      3. A VCUPD-80 Vehicle Maintenance Form must be forwarded to the Property and Evidence office to ensure that they’re able to follow up with VMCC regarding the vehicle.
    2. Roadside Assistance (flat tires, lockouts)
      1. If needed, call VMCC at 1-866-857-6866 (then press 1) and VMCC will send out the appropriate vendor to assist.


Use of Department’s Utility Vehicle

  1. The primary deployment area for the department’s utility vehicle (Gator) shall be Monroe Park.
    1. The on-duty supervisor may grant an exception to this deployment area for the purpose of utilizing the utility vehicle for special events (i.e., parades, overtime assignments, etc.).
  2. Operational Information
    1. Sworn personnel who are authorized to operator the utility vehicle must complete the required department training.
    2. Due to safety concerns, use of the department’s utility vehicle on roadways should be kept to a minimum, as the structural integrity of the passenger compartment is far less than a normal vehicle.
    3. The governor for the department’s utility vehicle is located in the glovebox and can be turned off/on using a key. The governor shall remain on and is not to be adjusted at any time.
    4. Seatbelts shall be utilized whenever the department’s utility vehicle is in use. The utility vehicle is equipped with a seatbelt interlock feature, which limits the vehicle’s travel speed when the driver’s seatbelt is not fastened.
    5. When unoccupied, the department’s utility vehicle shall remain locked and the emergency brake deployed.
    6. Sworn personnel are prohibited from transporting arrestees in the department’s utility vehicle.
  3. Designated Parking
    1. The department’s utility vehicle has a designated parking location in the Main Street Parking Deck, ground level, within the fenced enclosure.
    2. The fence is secured via a padlock, which is keyed to the VCUPD Patrolman’s Key.
    3. This fenced enclosure must remain locked at all times.
  4. Emergency Equipment
    1. The utility vehicle is equipped with a roof-mounted light bar, with two (2) separate flashing patterns (amber/blue).
      1. The rear amber flashing lights shall be utilized whenever the vehicle is driven on a roadway.
      2. The blue flashing lights shall be utilized for providing additional visibility only.
    2. The department’s utility vehicle is not equipped with an outside speaker, public address system, or a radio.
    3. The department’s utility vehicle is considered an unconventional vehicle. This utility vehicle is not to be used for traffic enforcement purposes, nor in the capacity of backing another unit conducting traffic enforcement.


Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

6/26/2014 - 3-7 Police Vehicles

3/19/2018 - 3-7 Police Vehicles

4/30/2019 - 3-7 Police Vehicles