Un-junking agency trunks

     Product: Extendo Bed assemblies

     Recipient Departments: Lacey (Washington) Police Department and Napoleon (North Dakota) Police Department

     Extendo Bed's experience in the "Junk in Your Trunk" program involved the Napoleon (North Dakota) and the Lacey (Washington) Police Departments. Extendo Bed Co. Inc. of Caldwell, Idaho, stepped forward to remedy each department's own unique custom organizational problems.

     Extendo Bed recognized each department and officer may have different requirements for organization. "What we do is go in and find out what the needs are," says Kim Cherry, Extendo Bed president. "We work with each individual, operator, driver or officer to form a solution that suits their specific needs."

     Disorganization became so out of hand that Lacey PD K-9 Officer Christopher Wenschhof had resorted to placing plastic bins on top of other plastic bins and putting a pile of important equipment on top. This obviously was not working to full efficiency, so he wrote to the "Junk in Your Trunk" program.

     "Man's best friend brings with him an excessive amount of canine clutter, from poop scoopers to a canine ballistic vest," says Wenschhof. "No matter how I rearranged things, there was always something I urgently needed in the very back. I had to pull everything in front out and onto the ground." To make matters worse, Wenschhof's troubles did not heel. Due to the weather conditions of the Pacific Northwest, he explains his equipment often resembled a soggy yard sale. "Before, every time I had to get some equipment, I dreaded going into the back of my vehicle," he says.

     The Napoleon PD was unavailable for comment, but their situation originated from a small budget with a small city. "Being only myself and one other part-time officer, we only have one vehicle, a 2001 Chevrolet Blazer, for a population of 850," writes (Ret.) Chief Darryl Bulzomi of the Napoleon PD. Like the Lacey PD, this department also relied on plastic bins, which officers unloaded onto the street to access gear or equipment buried underneath.

     Bulzomi's and Wenschhof's organizational pleas eventually made their way to Extendo Bed. "We go in and custom design almost each unit for the needs of the customer," says Cherry. "What works for one officer in one application may not work for someone else."

     Wenschhof's 2007 Chevrolet Police Tahoe organizer included a two-level unit with additional drawers. "Installation was amazingly easy," says Wenschhof. "The only problem arose from my own mechanical inexperience." Napoleon's unit, as described by Cherry, has a two-drawer command workstation and equipment access system. "These two models are of the most popular units for police departments that we have," he says.

     Product: Patrolman TrunkVault and Tac Center

     Recipient Departments: Madison County (Montana) Sheriff's Office and City of Bakersfield (California) Police Department.

     "If there's a need for me to respond, it's imperative and necessary for me to have all the equipment at hand," says Billy Owens, code enforcement officer with the City of Bakersfield (California) Police Department.

     Owens must carry large amounts of equipment in his Ford Taurus when he's on the road. Supplies such as tool bags, first aid kits, cones, cameras and flares are just a few of the important items he needs, along with the required equipment to perform his duties as a reserve officer. Duty gear, paperwork, forms and personal protective equipment also fill his trunk to the brim.

     Owens' Ford Taurus is known for its limited trunk space, but he says that "with the proper organizer, the car can be more functional."

     Representatives from Sedro-Woolley, Washington-based TruckVault Inc. agree.

     "One of the nice things about our product is that each one really is made-to-order, so we're able to offer products for just about any vehicle on the road," says Matt Swanson, marketing director of TruckVault.

     Owens says having all of his equipment in one place is much handier than digging through bags or boxes to access what he needs. In addition to organization, the Patrolman TrunkVault also offers a bit of extra protection.

     "We don't work the best parts of town, so it's also nice that we can keep our valuable equipment in the organizer," Owens says. "Not only is the equipment secured by the car, but there's secondary security with the TrunkVault as well."

     While entering the "Junk in Your Trunk" contest was important to Owens personally, he also hoped officials in his department would take notice of the need to improve organization in all of its patrol vehicles.

     "My goal was to bring it to the attention of our department so that maybe in the future vehicles can have something like a TruckVault incorporated as part of a standard equipment package."

     An officer searching through the trunk of a dirty, overstuffed, disorganized vehicle appears "far from efficient or professional," according to Dan Birdsill of the Madison County (Montana) Sheriff's Office. He entered his 2006 Ford Expedition in the "Junk in Your Trunk" program in hopes of putting the kibosh on clutter.

     As a "Junk in Your Trunk" winner, Birdsill installed the Tac Center from TruckVault within a few days of receiving it. Since efficiency is at the forefront of his mind, Birdsill says he finds it frustrating when he searches for an important piece of equipment in his vehicle during an emergency, only to find it misplaced or damaged.

     His department recently added and updated equipment stowed in patrol vehicles, but he says they fell short trying to organize and secure costly items.

     "The equipment is so expensive, you hate to see it get broken or lost or get pulled out and dropped in the mud," Birdsill continues.

     He says that while the appropriate equipment and tools are essential in law enforcement, so is the ability to keep the equipment and officers safe, organized and well-maintained. Birdsill says that his sheriff has been "absolutely great" about obtaining new equipment for the department, and the last thing he wants to see is equipment piling up in a trunk.

     Birdsill is also a K-9 officer, so he says he has twice the amount of equipment. The TruckVault unit allows him to put large items on top, just an arms reach away. "If I need my road spikes, ballistics helmet, tactical vest or something like that, it's all right there," Birdsill says. "I just open the door, grab it and go."

     According to Don Fenton, TruckVault sales marketing director, the company is "always researching new and better ways of building products. We welcome any input from law enforcement agencies, and we constantly strive to make a product that the end-user ultimately benefits from.

     Birdsill thinks the benefits of the TruckVault unit lie within making his vehicle better overall. In fact, since he's installed it, he hasn't had any issues filling the unit with his equipment.

     "I carry my flares and all of my paperwork and files," he says. "When I need something, all I have to do is pop one of those drawers open and it's right there, instead of having to unload everything out of my trunk."

     Product: Full-size trunk-mounted radio tray and equipment guard, and a trunk box organizer

     Recipient Departments:

     Lake Mills (Wisconsin) Police Department and Columbia City (Indiana) Police Department

     "Trunk organization is all about convenience, space and safety." This is the belief of Mark Sundy, product specialist and technical support manager for Warminster, Pennsylvania-based Havis-Shields Equipment Corp. "It is getting as much out of the driver's compartment as possible and keeping it safer for the officer," he continues.

     With this belief as a driving force, Havis-Shields participated in the "Junk in Your Trunk" program, donating a full-size trunk-mounted radio tray (C-3190-F) and Equipment Guard (C-3190-F-EG), specifically for the Ford Crown Victoria, as well as a Trunk Box Organizer (C-TBO-CV) to the City of Lake Mills (Wisconsin) Police Department and Columbia City (Indiana) Police Department, respectively.

     "It gets so limited on space in the driver's area that the need for trays has grown considerably," says Sundy. These trays, which Havis produces for Impalas and Chargers as well as Crown Victorias, can hold computers, remote siren control heads and any other electronic equipment that can be remotely mounted outside the passenger cabin.

     The tray will fit the needs of the Lake Mills PD, which currently uses tackle boxes and milk crates to organize smaller items. "We need an organizer that provides easy access for emergency equipment and compartmentalizes the smaller, but still important, items," wrote Officer David Fritsche in his entry submission.

     As with many Havis products, the Trunk Box Organizer originated from a customer request and was then found to meet the needs of many other departments. This trunk system with adjustable compartments will provide organizational enhancement to Capt. Brian Anspach of the Columbia City PD, who stores "everything from stuffed animals to guns in the trunk of my car," he says.

     All of the awarded products are designed for no-holes-drilled application when possible, and Sundy estimates that someone with basic mechanics skills and tools can install the radio tray, guard and/or trunk box within 20 minutes in a Crown Vic.

     When deciding to purchase a trunk organization system, Sundy recommends departments begin by answering the question: What equipment do we want to put in the trunk? "Then I always try to start as small as possible and work our way up as needed," he says. "If they have a little more equipment, we can offer a second-tier shelf. If they have a large amount of equipment, then you would go to the full-width tray. Spending extra time measuring and laying out equipment is time well spent."

     Product: Tactical Storage System for a Crown Vic and patrol SUV

     Recipient Departments: Burleson (Texas) Police Department and University of North Carolina — Greensboro Police Department

     Chris Havens of the Burleson (Texas) Police Department says "he wears many hats" as commander of the Patrol Operations Division. He needs quick access to the gear he carries in his 1999 Chevy Tahoe when he responds to major incidents such as crime scene investigations, shootings, hazmat situations, terrorist attacks and accidents. He says that patrol forms, manuals, guides, hazmat books, as well as traffic control items fill his trunk, and "his SUV is overflowing everywhere!"

     Havens is also a SWAT commander and needs to carry everything from gear bags to less-lethal projectiles, smoke grenades and gas guns. Havens is the winner of the Cusick, Washington-based Kalispel Case Line's TSS (Tactical Storage System) soon to be shipped for installation.

     The TSS features a secure storage solution that can be transferred from one vehicle to another with varying levels of security. Each TSS is custom-made and installed based on the specific dimensions of the vehicle provided by the customer.

     "This particular product line is quite simple," says Al Hague, general manager of Kalispel Case Line. "Our units are strong and secure. Depending on which of the three locking systems they use, they all have different levels of security."

     Hague notes that the all-metal construction, patented drawer system and lifetime warranty make the TSS unique. "We don't use drawer slides," he says. "We have a roller system underneath the drawer which supports the weight much better."

     The TSS has been "put to the test," according to Hague, by government agencies including the U.S. Army, U.S. Border Patrol and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), to name a few.

     "These units have been tested by border patrol," Hague says. "Going off-road they don't fall apart, unlike wood that gets bounced around and doesn't work right."

     Product: Crown Vic organizer

     Recipient Departments: City of Coeur D'Alene (Idaho) Police Department

     Tony Woltz of the City of Coeur D'Alene (Idaho) Police Department, says K-9 Officer Buhl is a "down-to-earth, no-nonsense gentleman who doesn't want anything for himself and makes do with what he has without complaint." Woltz nominated this K-9 unit, a 1999 Ford Crown Victoria, to help with organization. His mission: To help Buhl un-junk his trunk.

     As the winner of the Patriot trunk organizer, he'll be able to do just that.

     "Officer Buhl and his K-9 Justice have done an outstanding job," Woltz says, "but are continually hindered by having to rummage through the trunk in the darkness of night to find the tools of the trade. I can't think of a more deserving officer, dog or car."