Resource:Roll Call Reminder - Pre and Post Operational Patrol Car Checks

Dear Department Leader, 

Thank you for taking the time to discuss pre and post-operational patrol car checks.  The following page will guide you and your officers in discussing the importance of performing squad car checks at the beginning and the end of every shift. 

Patrol cars are not only a means of transportation.  Other uses include mobile offices, equipment haulers, cover or concealment during gun battles, barricades, emergency warning devices, temporary jails, cafeterias, and communication centers.  A patrol vehicle with high mileage or in disrepair may harm the department’s image and it may place officers in danger.  Faulty equipment on a patrol car can increase the chances of vehicle accidents, which may increase the chance of liability for your department and municipality. Failure to find and properly secure items found in the vehicle can have serious consequences as well.

A typical department policy will require officers who operate patrol cars (marked or unmarked) to inspect the vehicle assigned to them at the beginning and end of each shift, and complete a Vehicle and Equipment Inspection Form or Run Sheet.  Officers should submit the inspection forms, once completed, to the shift supervisor.  

Additionally, officers who are assigned a take-home vehicle, and are authorized to commute to and from work with that unit, should be armed and ready for duty while using the vehicle and should sign on before each vehicle use via the police radio.  Consider the following requirements for conducting pre and post operational checks.

  • The inspecting officer should document and report to the supervisor any damage that may have resulted from an accident.  The supervisor should ensure that the proper procedure for reporting an accident involving police vehicles is followed.  
  • The inspecting officer should record any minor cosmetic or mechanical issues to ensure the necessary repairs take place during the vehicle's regularly scheduled maintenance.
  • The inspecting officer should document and report all problems or damage to a vehicle that potentially threatens officer safety (i.e., headlight or siren out, radio not working, etc.).  The supervisor may assign a replacement vehicle and arrange for the repairs to the damaged vehicle.


Police cars are a symbol of what citizens respect and what criminals fear.  Ensure that officers perform daily inspections before and after each shift.  Keeping the entire fleet of vehicles on the road is critical to the success of the police department. 


Roll Call Reminder
This Roll Call Reminder discusses the importance of pre and post-operational patrol car checks.  The intent is to have a department leader or designated team member read the reminder aloud to the team.  After hearing the message, work together to answer and respond to the questions that follow.  To conclude the conversation, it is important that you acknowledge the importance of thoroughly checking your patrol car and commit to performing checks at the beginning and end of each shift.  

Welcome Law Enforcement Officers,

Whether you have a shared patrol car or a take-home unit, it is important to inspect your car and its equipment before and after your shift.  After all, this is your mobile office.  The purpose of the inspection is to ensure the vehicle is properly equipped, properly maintained, free of weapons and contraband, and is free of tampering since the last use.  Pre and post-operational checks also help to identify any unreported damage or features of the car that are not working, helping to make sure the car is safe to use.

Many police officers, at either the start or end of their shift, simply walk around their patrol unit looking for new damage.  However, it is important for you to conduct a thorough inspection of your vehicle, both the interior and exterior, as part of your pre and post-shift ritual.  In addition to looking for damage and ensuring everything is operational, search for items that may be misplaced or undiscovered.

At least once in their career, an officer will find something that another officer missed.  Consider pre and post-operational checks as a positive intervention.  For example, if an officer performs a pre-trip inspection and finds a weapon missed by the last officer’s post-trip inspection, significant risk to officer safety has just been eliminated.   An offender that is searched and put in the backseat during the next shift will not find that weapon to use against the officer.  

  • What are some potential outcomes of not checking your patrol car thoroughly before your shift?
  • What are some potential consequences of not checking your vehicle after your shift?
  • What issues/concerns do you most frequently find when checking your patrol vehicle?


Failing to conduct an appropriate inspection before the start of your shift and at the end of your shift places you, other officers, and the citizens you are sworn to protect in jeopardy.  Recognize that a police officer in their police car visibly patrolling a community provides a strengthened sense of safety and security to the residents and any visitors.  Failure to ensure your patrol car is clear of any contraband, to check the unit’s functionality, or report any needed repairs can result in serious consequences.