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October 15, 2004
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Police Equipment Puts Emergency Response on Wheels

Communication among branches of law enforcement has just become easier, thanks to the purchase of a mobile command post by the Nebraska State Patrol.

The command post is a 40- foot-long vehicle capable of supporting itself, as long diesel fuel is available.

It features state-of-the-art technology, such as satellite TV reception, Global Positioning System capabilities and a weather-monitoring center, for a total cost of $500,000.

The patrol worked with LDV, Inc. of Burlington, Wis., to design and build the vehicle over an 18-month period.

Nebraska State Patrol Maj. Bryan Tuma said the state patrol needed something similar to this for 2½ years. After a lot of preparation, the state patrol made the purchase two weeks ago.

"It has taken about 18 months from the time the project was started until the time the vehicle was delivered," he said.

Lt. Gov. Dave Heineman, who is also the director of homeland security in Nebraska, said the mobile center would allow law enforcement to take control of a situation from the scene itself.

"This will be a significant help because this vehicle will allow us to go to (a location) and have a command center," he said.

One of the features, Tuma said, is increased communications. The vehicle will use new technology to convert the four different radio frequencies used by different agencies into a single digital format. The command center could then communicate with the other agencies simultaneously.

The command center could help thwart a terrorist attack. Tuma said Nebraska could be a target for terrorists for many reasons. Nebraska has strategic targets such as Interstate 80, food-production centers and two nuclear power plants.

"You look at that kind of infrastructure, and you have to look at building contingencies to protect it," he said.

Tuma also said the vehicle would have helped in a recent manhunt to arrest a man who shot at a patrol officer. The portable command center also could have helped in Hallam, when the town was severely damaged by storms in May.

"If we would have had the mobile command unit in those situations, we definitely would have used it," he said.

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