The council voted Monday to accept a slightly used mobile command unit from the Woodstock Public Safety Foundation, which raised funds through private donations and purchased the $37,000 vehicle for the police department.
The mobile command unit is a 1995 Marquis Beaver mobile office equipped with three work stations, two generators and various communications equipment.
Woodstock Police Chief Calvin Moss said the vehicle will be jointly used by the police and fire departments, along with the city’s public works and parks and recreation departments, as a “unified forward command center.”
“I think Director Pat Flood, Chief Dave Soumas and Director Preston Pooser join me in thanking the board of directors of the Woodstock Public Safety Foundation for their foresight and their diligence in getting the donated funds and then handing the vehicle over to the city,” Moss said after the council voted to accept the donated vehicle.
Moss said the vehicle is in the process of being updated and outfitted with the needed radio technologies, equipment and decals.
“Our plan is to have it fully operational by mid-May, and there’s a fair chance that we’ll beat that timeline,” Moss said Wednesday.
Moss said he is also working to select operators for the department’s new vehicle.
“We’re working on identifying potential operators — there’s no special license required as it’s considered a recreational vehicle, in terms of class,” Moss explained. “However, we will be doing some substantial driver’s training with it, and in particular, with the technical operations of it.”
Moss said the three areas in the mobile command unit have desks, “much like a cubicle in an office.”
The vehicle is expected to be used about a dozen times a year at city-sponsored events, and whenever major events such as extreme weather or other emergencies occur in the city.
Moss explained how the mobile command unit could have been used in a situation similar to the recent winter storms.
“Oftentimes, in major events like the snowstorm, we utilize a program called Web-EMC, which is a web-based application that allows us to input information directly to the Emergency Management Agency,” Moss said. “Not only to the director of the EMA, but also to surrounding jurisdictions that might be impacted — whatever that event may be — so they can see what actions we’re taking and how we’re addressing the situation.”
Councilman Warren Johnson said he would like to see some sort of decal on the vehicle to point out it was donated by the Woodstock Public Safety Foundation.
“Both to give recognition to the foundation,” Johnson said, and “so those who don’t understand the need would understand their tax dollars didn’t specifically pay for the purchase.”
Moss said the department planned to put a “unified command logo” on the new vehicle and said the decals could also include some sort of notice about how the vehicle was paid for.
Moss said the annual operating costs for the vehicle, including fuel and scheduled maintenance, are expected to be about $2,500. Insurance for the vehicle is expected to cost $239 annually, he said.
Moss said the fire and police departments plan to work together with the city’s finance department to set aside the needed funds for future maintenance costs.