Morgan Hill and Gilroy police celebrated the arrival of a new mobile command center that Morgan Hill acquired through multiple rounds of grant funding.
The Morgan Hill Police Department took delivery of the new vehicle the morning of Dec. 21 at the station on Vineyard Boulevard. The command vehicle, manufactured by LDV, is a high-tech RV equipped with satellite communications facilities, birds-eye camera views from atop a collapsible 50-foot tower extension, command staff meeting room and all the features needed to allow public safety first responders to efficiently coordinate their efforts and see everything around them during a large-scale disaster or criminal incident.
The vehicle will facilitate emergency response to events such as wildfires, floods, earthquakes and other incidents that require a multi-agency response from fire, police, sheriff’s and state and federal agency personnel, Morgan Hill police explained. Police command staff can “stage, plan and implement specific actions to quickly resolve incidents” using the vehicle and its equipment.
The vehicle will also be useful in a police response to potential criminal threats such as a hostage situation or active shooter incident, MHPD Capt. Shane Palsgrove said. And it can provide an eye in the sky for public events that draw large crowds—such as the Morgan Hill Mushroom Mardi Gras and the Gilroy Garlic Festival—so that officers can be watchful of any disturbances or missing children, for example.
Police Chief David Swing said, “One of the most foundational aspects of any response is communication. Effective communication helps enhance our response, and this helps us coordinate communication” during large-scale responses.
Although the command vehicle is a regional asset that will be shared among local agencies, the City of Morgan Hill took the lead role in its acquisition. MHPD obtained two grants from the state Homeland Security Grant Program that funded more than 100 percent of the vehicle’s $600,000-plus cost, Palsgrove said. The grant program is funded by federal dollars passed through to the states, to fund projects at the local level.
The city council accepted the grants, and police ordered the vehicle from LDV in July 2018.
The Morgan Hill police chief gave credit to Palsgrove for persisting through the grant process and securing the funding for the new command center on wheels. “Our success in the grant process would not have occurred without the work of Capt. Shane Palsgrove. He shepherded this project from council acceptance through project delivery,” Swing said.
The command vehicle is the only one of its kind in South County, Palsgrove said. But it is “fully interoperable” with similar emergency vehicles stationed with police departments in the northern part of the county, should those agencies ever need assistance from the Morgan Hill/Gilroy vehicle during a disaster or other large-scale event.
One of the conditions of the federal grants is the vehicle has to be available as a regional asset—for Gilroy police and fire and the county sheriff’s office, for example. Gilroy Police Capt. Kurt Svardal was present at Morgan Hill Police station Dec. 21 for the local unveiling of the vehicle.