Grant funds mobile command center

Published 9:35 pm Saturday, March 5, 2011

Mobile command: The Suffolk Police Department has received a federal grant to purchase a mobile command vehicle, similar to this one, which belongs to the city of Newport News.

The Suffolk Police Department soon will have a new mobile command vehicle to improve its responses to natural disasters, hostage situations and other incidents.

The department received a Port Security Grant of $656,503 to purchase the vehicle. The money came from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Police Chief Thomas Bennett said the vehicle would be useful in a number of situations. The lack of one was “the most glaring weakness from a police standpoint” in the response to Suffolk’s April 2008 tornado, he added.

Email newsletter signup

The mobile command vehicle will enable the police department to set up a command center at any location. The vehicle also has the capability to operate police and fire dispatching for the entire city.

It also includes a conference room from which hostage negotiations can be conducted; a telescopic surveillance camera that can read the license plate on a car from 200 yards away; satellite television and telephone; ham radio capability; and a diesel generator that can fully power the bus for 48 hours.

The bus also can connect to the police department’s computer network. It has air conditioning and heating, three slide-outs for more space and exterior lighting.

The bus also has the Horizon Sentinel Tracking System, which picks up the signals emitted by all ships approaching the United States.

“This is the best thing that money can buy today,” Bennett told City Council members last week.

The grant requires no matching funds. Bennett hopes to have the bus in the department’s fleet soon.