Tempe Police Department: State of the Art Command Vehicle

Article excerpt

The Tempe, AZ, Police Department had been without a command vehicle for several years when the command staff decided that a new state of the art mobile command post was crucial for crime scene investigations. The previous vehicle had been decommissioned in the early 1990s, and officers had since been forced to work off of their car hoods and trunk lids during on-scene investigations, according to Chief Ralph Tranter. "In 1995 we began looking at other departments' vehicles, planning to procure one under our capital improvement program. We got this vehicle as a joint Police/Fire Department vehicle for budget reasons, but set up primarily for police use."

The 321-officer agency covers a city of 40 square miles, with a population of 165,000, not counting the 47,000 students at Arizona State University. Its workload includes SWAT call-outs, DWI checkpoints and major crime investigations, for which a mobile command post is essential. A mobile command post is also essential for HazMAT calls, large fire scenes and as a support vehicle for training and recruitment. It also serves as a mobile headquarters for major events, such as Tempe's New Year's Eve Block Party.

Assistant Chief Jay Spradling surveyed the desired features, and the agency ordered a custom command post from Lynch Diversified Vehicles after soliciting input from Tempe officers who would actually be using it. The new vehicle arrived in September 2000, with many features and capacity for expansion to accommodate new technology.

The 39-foot van has a 260 horsepower turbo-charged Cummins Diesel engine and a set of computerized leveling jacks. Behind the driver's station is the command section, equipped with TV monitors to display real-time surveillance scenes and commercial TV news programs, six workstations with "Tellular" telephones that can use landlines or cellular service, a fax/copier and other equipment. …