From Wisconsin's Ground... Up

Situation may require specific tools.

A custom vehicle starts with a body and a chassis engineered to individual specifications. For example, the FBI's New York and Los Angeles field offices received similar, but different, vehicles as the FBI's Washington Field Office Mobile Command Center.

"As they [New York and Los Angeles] took control and defined requirements, their custom vehicles were built to their specific needs based on a number of features," comments Klopp. "New York built two smaller vehicles. It can be difficult to transit through major cities; a custom vehicle can be massive in height, length and weight."

Depending on size and style, the interior of custom vehicles are generally divided into three sections: a forward communications center, central access galley and rear command/conference room. For example, the communications area can feature a variety of interoperable communication systems while the central galley may feature basic amenities and small appliances. Meanwhile, the rear command area often resembles a conference room, explains Organ.

The interior equipment can be modified or substituted to include a range of technologies.

"Everything is very specialized from what type of engine to the numbers of doors you want in your cab and into the rear of the actual vehicle," says Ann Stawski, director of marketing for Pierce.

Common equipment in a high-tech communications suite include weather stations, DVD players and recorders, color video printers, and multi-channel voice logging systems. Generally, internal and external workstations are tied to a central computer network. The rear command "conference room" may feature flat screen monitors and/or an electronic writing board that interfaces with the central computer network.

A custom vehicle can also offer an exterior work station with access to telephone, radio and audio/video technology. If so chosen, a telescoping mast can feature closed-circuit video to survey an incident and can also include thermal imaging or infra-red camera options. Local television and satellite send and receive capabilities can be accessed via a satellite dish.

Based on budgets and specific requirements, floor plans can be modified to accommodate the needs of the individual department. Custom vehicles can vary in size with room for as little as two to 20 or more people.

Custom vehicles are available on either a commercial or custom chassis. Imagine the interior of an equipment-devoid fire truck, using the space for a workspace but with the benefit of the tough and rugged fire truck chassis' structure.

Safety features, such as built-in side roll protection and longer seat belts are some examples of options available.

Much like constructing a building, the choices available for the law enforcement agency interested in a custom vehicle can be overwhelming. Officials, however, won't be left to stray in the decision making process. "Customers can choose to build from the ground up, or use an existing plan to start," says Organ.

To ensure a vehicle will meet its need, manufacturers work with customers to guarantee the right components are configured in the right way, says Organ. "Customers commonly come up a list of requirements to incorporate," he adds.

"At Pierce, we are staffed with professionals offering recommendations for anything on the vehicle from the chassis to body, all the way to the complex command and communications electronics systems," says Grassl.

"Together we review what is available and how it best fits in to the overall layout of the vehicle and how the customer expects to use the vehicle."

Law enforcement professionals have many demands placed upon them to maintain public safety. The ingenuity of custom vehicle manufacturers provide important benefits to fulfill those demands.

"Law enforcement agencies have a better opportunity to obtain information or maintain control with a custom vehicle," says Organ.

A custom vehicle enhances law enforcement's ability to coordinate efforts among various emergency response professionals, provides incident response adaptability and increases safety.

Custom vehicle manufacturers provide law enforcement a service to create a vehicle for a quick, efficient and hassle-free response to any situation, large or small — common or unusual.

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