The United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) debuts electric vehicles for law enforcement

Photo: United States Department of Homeland Security by Tia Dufour/Released

The DHS debuted its first battery-powered electric vehicle in September 2022 with a Ford Mustang Mach-E as part of a broader strategy to move towards an electric fleet.

With concerns about global warming and the climate crisis becoming an increasing international issue, there has been a worldwide shift towards electric and hybrid vehicles. The homeland security and safety industry is no exception.

In September 2022, at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers’ Office of Cheltenham Operations, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) became the first American federal agency to debut a battery-powered electric vehicle (EV) fitted for performing law enforcement functions. The vehicle, a Ford Mustang Mach-E, was the first of a range of electric vehicles the DHS plans to use for various law enforcement missions throughout the United States.

Previously, in April 2022, the DHS had completed an upfit of a Ford Mustang Mach-E as a law enforcement vehicle with lights and sirens according to American Federal Protective Service standards. 

Before the Mustang Mach-E could be introduced more widely as a law enforcement vehicle, it had to go through various stress tests in order to be approved by the DHS. It had to undergo rigorous testing to demonstrate that it could handle a wide range of stresses including high speeds, manoeuvrability both on- and off-road, durability, endurance, and technical specifications.

The Federal Protective Service (FPS) is currently studying controlled performance statistics and building on existing data as well as conducting operational assessment of the vehicle through real-world employment by Law Enforcement Officers during their daily routines. The FPS is simultaneously conducting cybersecurity assessments of the vehicle that will inform the DHS of potential threats, vulnerabilities, and risks associated with the introduction of electric vehicles into the fleet.

The DHS is the United States’ third largest federal agency and largest law enforcement agency. They have over 50,000 vehicles, 60 percent of which are law enforcement vehicles. The plan is to have electric vehicles replace roughly 60% of the current law enforcement vehicles that have a standard internal combustion engines. “DHS is leading the charge among federal agencies to transition its fleet vehicles from internal combustion engines to zero-emission electric vehicles,” said Deputy Secretary of the United States Homeland Security John Tien, who attended the DHS debut of a battery electric vehicle fitted for law enforcement. “DHS is proud to be the first Federal agency to upfit a battery electric vehicle for law enforcement use. As we ramp up EV adoption, we are excited to see how this and other EVs perform for our mission.” 

The DHS’ move towards electric vehicles is an integral part of the DHS Climate Action Plan. Approved in September 2021, this plan has longer term goals emphasising sustainability; energy and water resilience; and fleet electrification. One of the plan’s five priority actions is integrating climate adaptation and planning into homeland security by reviewing budget planning policies to determine whether climate change considerations have been appropriately incorporated. This overall plan and the DHS’ fleet changes specifically correspond with American President Biden’s government’s broader sustainability goals. President Biden’s administration has set ambitious goals of bringing more sustainable infrastructure to the U.S. and achieving a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035 and a net zero emissions economy by no later than 2050.

“DHS is proactively seeking to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, electric vehicles have the potential to significantly improve federal fleet efficiency and reduce vehicle operation and maintenance costs,” said R. D. Alles, the acting under secretary for management at DHS. “DHS is also looking to create climate-resilient facilities and infrastructure, and to continue transitioning the DHS vehicle fleet towards electrification in the years to come.”

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