The Police Car Erector Set
A great police car ergonomics secret
Updated: June 23rd, 2006 03:49 AM
Twisting is almost eliminated when
typing in the driver's seat.
All photos by Boyd Bryant
Typing outside the police
Typing from the passenger seat is
more comfortable than the desk in your
In a quiet residential neighborhood in South Seattle is a non-descript
warehouse that contains some of the brightest and most creative people
Jeff Carnevali, C.E.O. of National Products, has created a magic bullet
for police work, or better, put magic bullets for computing in a police
Mr. Carnevali provided me with a tour of the facility. Inside the
warehouse that is buzzing with activity, fully automated molding machines
form parts for the Ram Mounting Systems computer mounting product line.
The company has been around since 1994 and steadily developed an unrivaled
product selection that makes them a one-stop shop for devices that hold
any type of computer mounted on any kind of vehicle or shop application.
The Ram Mount system exploded onto the police scene very visibly at a
number of 2005 police trade shows. They are a force to be reckoned with.
Mr. Carnevali plays it all down. "I'm just a tool and die man," he
By keeping the company lean, Mr. Carnevali is able to take new ideas
from concept to fabricated part in six weeks or less. A visit to Ram
Mounting Systems' web site will reveal a staggering variety of component
parts that are, for the most part, interchangeable. The system works the
right way. Mounting brackets use existing seat bolts to hold a computer
mounting bracket, The system can be built up from the floor of the police
vehicle. Telescoping vertical posts and pivoting arms lead to a ball mount
that allows for any angle of tilt or pivot for the product. The vertical
posts can be ordered in a variety of heights, and floor mounts are
available for most domestic vehicles used as police cars.
The positive side of this is the ease with which any agency can
customize the laptop mounting system and the speed with which officers
from 4'10' to seven feet tall can re adjust the mounting system to fit
their size and personal preference.
Can you get a computer directly in front of the officer? No. But the
officer can, with the proper components, turn the passenger seat of the
car into a very ergonomically acceptable workstation.
Those agencies who are using traditional vehicle consoles may wish to
mount the laptop and its associated pivoting system on the console. Ram
Mounts offers a number of solutions in the form of brackets that either
bolt to the top or side of an existing metal patrol car console.
A simple read of west coast salary scales shows that, in many cities,
cost per officer in the field is easily over $100,000.00 per year. This is
particularly true when the operational support costs and benefits costs
are added into the totals for all officers fielded. The advent of data
sharing and typewritten reports is continuing to force police officers to
leave their beat in order to type at computers inside police facilities.
Typing in police cars isnt generally accepted as ergonomically sound and
is therefore a challenge that many agencies and businesses are seeking to
address. Solutions like those from Ram Mounting Systems provide a fresh
and flexible approach that can bring an ergonomically acceptable solution
to computing in a police car.
Our agency is currently testing the product. The adjustability is
greatly appreciated by officers, but some have expressed concern that
others using the car don't re-tighten the adjustment points connected to
the laptop mounting system. I believe that this is a training issue that
will have to be addressed continually. Just like making sure your weapon
is secure, you need to check your vehicle gear.
Other solutions, such as use of either USB-based wired or wireless
keyboards, are a bootleg solution developed by officers who prefer to be
in the field rather than driving to a police building. Even custom machine
shop solutions are available. But amazingly, for most police vehicles, the
price point for a full in-car mounting system is considerably lower than
any competitor -- as much as 60% less than some competitive products.
The bottom line is that we are in the business of being in touch with
the community and computer based applications are only as good as the
officer's in-the-field access to the system in question.
While visiting Mr. Carnevali, I observed that the mounting systems will
work for anything from Bass Masters' Fish Finders to GPS direction finders
on off-the-road vehicles. The systems are used on forklifts in industrial
settings and delivery trucks of freight companies. The company also has an
ever increasing following in the long-haul trucker market.
Let's see: American made, at considerably less cost, with an almost
limitless customization capacity, and adjustments that eliminate
ergonomics associated with longer typing tasks. This product line is a
With the majority of manufacturing, assembly, and shipping occurring in
the United States, Mr. Carnevali has combined his creativity, with an
accomplished work crew, to bring a massive variety of products to market.
Frankly, I wanted to wrap him in a flag and cheer for his accomplishments.
The U.S.A. still has it, thanks to Mr. Carnevali and entrepreneurs like
him. His products are to be considered seriously.
Bryant is a 27-year veteran of law enforcement and spokesman
for a mid sized agency in the Pacific Northwest. He is an internationally
recognized technologist, forensic examiner, professional speaker, and law
enforcement project analyst. As project coordinator for an agency wide
wireless broadband network project he was the recipient of the
International Association of Chief's of Police (IACP) Technology
Excellence Award for 2004