It’s a nice enough new building. Modern, clean, lots of concrete and glass. But the heart of the Police Cantonale Vaudoise in Swiss Lausanne, with 1,000 police officers and 300 civilian staff, lies underneath the surface – the massive car park where all police cars wait for their next operation.

Armoured troop carriers, stealth intervention cars, bikes and even trucks and tractors, they are all carefully looked after by Adjutant Jean-Philippe Jaquier, Chef Département Véhicules, as it says on his business card.

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Jean-Philippe Jaquier

Chef Département Véhicules of the Police Cantonale Vaudoise in Lausanne

You don’t even notice what a powerful position he fills. His is a pleasant welcome, warm even. He immediately offers coffee and shows us his office. When asked whether he is a stereotypical doughnut-lover or if he prefers croissants because of the proximity to France, he surprises: “I never eat in a car.” And, with that, you’re on to his favourite subject.

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Jean-Philippe was enthusiastic about vehicles and motorsport from an early age. He attended races, started to work on cars and quickly realised that after school he wanted to turn his hobby into his profession and become a car mechanic. That’s how it happened. But when he applied to the police in Lausanne for a job as a mechanic for the patrol car fleet, everything changed. When the sergeant asked him why he didn’t want to become a highway patrol officer, he couldn’t come up with an answer. He’d never thought about it. He asked for time to mull it over, and quickly came to the conclusion that not only was this a new opportunity for him, but that he would also be able to combine his passion with new experiences.

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Shortly after a brief phone call with the sergeant, Jean-Philippe found himself back in school –police school. In 1984 he joined the motorway police of the Police Cantonale Vaudoise in Lausanne. It was a great time, he says today, smiling at the memories.

Of course, there were also incredible missions. Accidents saw cars completely destroyed, with some of the wheels and even the engines torn from the body, while the drivers would stand by the wreck entirely unscathed. “These were the moments when you would ask yourself: how can this be possible?” Jean-Philippe adds, shaking his head.

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After 19 years’ service on the road, Jean-Philippe had the opportunity to become manager of the vehicle fleet. As nice as his daily work as a police officer was, his heart was still beating strongly for the four wheels.

Now he was able to combine his mechanical skills with knowledge gained from the field – an unbeatable combination when selecting new company vehicles. Performance, practicability and value for money, he says, are the most important factors determining the choice of police car.

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Needless to say, this is why he has had so many ŠKODA models in his fleet over the years. Over 70 vehicles – OCTAVIAs, SUPERBs and the new KODIAQs – from the Czech Republic have been introduced into the Lausanne fleet by Jean-Philippe.

He is particularly proud of the vehicles’ durability. Patrol cars remain in service for up to six years and put in a solid 200,000 km. He rigorously observes all service intervals, but beyond that no particular wear or malfunctions can be detected.

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“The cars are very sturdy. We don’t have to alter the chassis at all, even though we load the vehicles up quite heavily with our equipment. For example, the rear of the new KODIAQ features not only protective equipment, such as a shield and bulletproof vest, but also crow’s feet, warning lamps, warning triangles and more.”

While Jean-Philippe puts the trunk back in, his necklace suddenly flashes out – a small gold steering wheel he proudly wears around his neck every day. Why this symbol? Because he just loves cars. Every day.

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10 Questions for Adjutant Jean-Philippe Jaquier

1. Your work day yesterday: what did you do?
Yesterday I was in the office early because it was maintenance day. I made more than ten trips to the dealers because the intervention cars had to be inspected and repairs had to be carried out. As it takes more than 20 minutes to get to the workshop each time and I then had to discuss the scope of work with the mechanics on site, this was a job that took me the whole day.

2. How did you become a police officer (your career in general)?
Actually, I didn’t plan to become a policeman at all. I applied for a job as a police car mechanic. But in the interview, the sergeant suggested that I might want to consider becoming a police officer. And one thing led to another. All in all, I was a motorway police officer for 19 years before I became manager of the vehicle fleet in 2003, a position I continue to hold with pride.

3. What do you love about your work?
No one day is like another, it is never boring and there are always surprises. Finding the right solutions makes this a dream job for me.

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4. What do you hate about your work?
(smiles) Literally nothing.

5. Do you remember the first time you drove a car?
Yes, of course! I remember it very well. I had bought my first car, an Opel Manta GT, a few weeks before the driving test and could hardly wait to drive it. After the test I immediately took it out and drove along some nice country roads to a lake.

6. What would you do if cars didn’t exist?
I would be very sad.

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7. What will cars look like in 20 years?
If what I am reading in newspapers and magazines really comes to pass, then they will probably be predominantly electric and perhaps even fully autonomous.

8. What was your favourite toy in when you were little?
My little collection of Matchbox model cars.

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9. Do you have any unusual anecdotes involving a car?
It’s probably hardly unusual, but my first car race was quite exciting. I started motorsport soon after passing my driving test and did lots of slalom racing. The feeling before the first race was indescribable.

10. What’s your dream destination for road trip?
Definitely Route 66. In a powerful V8 muscle car with country music blaring.

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