Regional police now have two mobile command vehicles loaded with technology.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

June 12, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is a lot a police officer can do from the seat of his cruiser. He has access to a huge range of information from staff at the Communications Centre.

There are however times when the police have to set up a command station in the field. They need space to work in and the ability to communicate with people at several levels of authority.

Two mobile commands

Halton Regional Police Mobile Command has two buses – with almost every imaginable piece of equipment- except weapons.

There was a time when police had the use of a small trailer they could work out of. The Halton Regional Police now have two buses that can go almost everywhere and set up a command post.

The larger of the two is 32 feet, the small one is 23 feet.  The larger unit has yet to have to go into the field on an assignment.  The smaller unit has been used a few times.

The two vehicles that are now fully operational and able to move on a couple of minutes notice came in at a cost of $850,000 – and they have everything – including a very small kitchen sink.

Comand with aerial up

The major Mobile Command bus has an aerial with cameras, a satellite dish and a wall that slides out when the vehicle gets into operation.

The two vehicles have a civilian whose full time job is to keep the buses ready to go at a moment’s notice and to ensure that the technology inside the buses is always ready to go. Equipment glitches aren’t tolerated.

The Regional police went through a six month exercise to determine just what there might be or could be in the way of a public safety circumstance and what would be needed in terms of equipment and technology to meet the situation.

Each of the business units was asked what they saw as the need and what they felt was needed.

The Region of Halton is a large sprawling jurisdiction that runs from north of highway 401 to Lake Ontario with Hamilton on the west and the Region of Peel on the east.

Rail lines and the busiest highway in the province run through the top part of the Region.

A team of six people spent six months researching the need and then determining what was needed in the way of equipment.

The decision was to have two vehicles – both were custom built based on a standard bus frame. The larger of the two runs on diesel fuel that drives the 300 horse power engine.

The equipment is kept operating with a 16,000 watt generator. When the command unit arrives on a site the driver engages the pop out that extends one side of the vehicle.  If you look at the photograph you can see the extension.

Main wall of screens

The wall of screens can take a data feed from a number of sources including a twitter feed related to a public safety event. Six different feeds at the same time are possible.

The communications include the basic police walkie talkie that broadcasts over a secure network, a standard land line, cell phones and a satellite telephone.

There is an aerial with a camera that can pick up and hold an image more than a football field in length away.

Inspector + sat phone

HRPS Inspector Derek Davis heads up the Mobile Command. To his right here is a satellite phone, a walkie talkie to communicate with police cruisers, a land line and cell lines

The larger of the two command vehicles can hold 9 people at consoles and an additional four people working inside the bus.

There is every imaginable piece of communications equipment with large screens everywhere.

The main operations table is about the size of a door with a huge screen that works with Google maps and can zoom in and out. A command officer can mark off an area and zoom in for a tighter look.

The feed from the camera can be brought to any one of the screens giving everyone in the vehicle a very close look at what is happening live outside the bus.

The technology can have eight different data feeds coming in at the same time.  The operator can switch from one data feed to another and if need be split a screen to increase the amount of information in front of the people managing the situation.

Ops table with Google maps

A table with a screen the size of a door can take a data feed from a number of sources. Google maps allows the police to zoom in and out and isolate an area and send the image to others.

The second smaller mobile command is intended to handle situations in the field where a police negotiator is required.

The Regional police can be in instant communication with the OPP, the RCMP and the Canadian Armed forces if necessary.

They plug in to the Regions 911 communications centre giving them access to every piece of information you can imagine and then some you wouldn’t think of.

The police are fully conversant with social media and are able to link into twitter feeds to keep up with what the public is saying in the online world.

Commanad 2

The seating area in Mobile 2 – intended for use when a negotiator is required and as a back up.

The mobile command bus doesn’t use keys to access the vehicle – entry is via a card – with just the people who might need to get into the vehicle having access.

There is a video screen and a small desk built into the outside of the bus so that people who do not have to be inside still have access to data and visual information.

In an age where information is what solves crimes and allows people to manage situations where public safety is the issue these two mobile commands will serve the public very well.

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