This week you'll see a poll question (bottom right side of the home page) that asks about whether or not you do "spring cleaning" for your cruiser / patrol vehicle. Although I know some folks who seem to ONLY clean their patrol vehicles in the spring, I also knew plenty who washed their car every other day. In fact, I used to work with a guy who steam cleaned his engine weekly. While we all know and appreciate the value of a professional appearance, which does include how our patrol vehicles look, there is such a thing as too much. By the same token, too much is much harder to achieve than sloppy. Now, yes... I know that during the winter months it's near impossible to keep a patrol vehicle clean on the outside. When you get in and out with all that yuck on your boots, it's also impossible to keep it clean on the inside. I'm not talking about keeping your patrol vehicle whistle clean at all times and especially not when environmental conditions dictate a mess. What I AM talking about is taking a little bit of pride in your vehicle. Now I know it's far easier for officers who have assigned vehicles to maintain them. If you report for work and get assigned a pool car, I KNOW there's only so much you're going to do to keep it squared away (and that limit is probably on a check list that has to be filled out each shift). However, if you ARE assigned your own patrol vehicle, what's a reasonable expectation of cleanliness and maintenance? Certainly it should be mechanically maintained. Oil changes, filter changes and tire pressure checks should all be performed on a fixed schedule. Tire pressure should probably be checked every other day if not every day before work. One tire low on air can cause bad things to happen in a fast chase. The outside should be kept clean as much as weather permits and the inside should be kept free of debris on an on-going basis. Yes, we all have our "in car trash bag". Mine was the door pocket in my Crown Vic. Now it's the door pocket in my Charger. But nothing that is or gets sticky is ever put in there. Such trash goes into a plastic grocery bag or a two-gallon ziplock bag. Sticky takes too much work to clean out. Aside from making sure the outside is clean and your trash is disposed of properly, keeping your windshield clean - inside and out - in all weather is imperative. Be realistic: if you can't see clearly, you can't drive safely. A package of Windex Wipes isn't that expensive. Suck it up, buy them out of your own pocket if need be, and wipe that windshield off - at least weekly. The biggest thing about keeping the inside of your car clean is making sure there are no loose items that can float around to become potentially dangerous projectiles in the event of an accident. It would suck to survive the impact of your vehicle into another, or another vehicle into yours, just to be maimed or blinded by that metal clipboard you always keep on your dashboard. All of us enjoy a new car. Part of that enjoyment is the spotless shine it gets delivered with. That spotless shine can be maintained but it takes time and attention and effort. Invest them. It's worth it to maintain the professional image and to be safe in your own patrol vehicle.