Maryland Launches Nation's Largest Mobile Command Center

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Nov 26, 2004
The new state police Mobile Incident Command Vehicle has a turbo-charged 600-horsepower diesel engine, a conference room and rooftop observation deck.
It's equipped with radar, satellite and microwave communication systems - plus a microwave oven and a coffee maker to keep its operators awake.
At its unveiling in Annapolis yesterday, the vehicle's many amenities even prompted Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. to ask, "Does it fly?"
It may not have wings, but the $1.15 million, 56-foot-long unit is the largest single-unit command vehicle in the country.
"It can literally replace a police station or a state police barrack," said Col. Thomas E. Hutchins, secretary of the Department of State Police.
Ready for manmade disasters, or natural ones, the command vehicle can come to the rescue of local law enforcement agencies by improving communication between them.
Department of Transportation Secretary Robert Flannigan said a recent tanker fire on Interstate 95 revealed communication troubles among various jurisdictions.
"This is the kind of facility that you want to be available at a scene like that," he said.
Col. Hutchins said the unit also is compatible with the national incident management system.
The vehicle will be stationed at the Waterloo Barrack in Jessup in Howard County. A cross between a tractor-trailer and a tour bus, it resembles a G.I. Joe supertoy.
There's a flat screen on the exterior, as well as a fold-out canopy for outdoor briefings with larger groups of people.
Inside, it still has that new car smell and is chock full of computers, sleek black-flecked counters and dark wood cabinets.
Kingsley Coach of Minnesota built the vehicle, and the onboard technology was put in by Bickford Industries in Chantilly, Va.
Paul C. Bickford said his company has supplied the technology for television station trucks for more than two decades. The Mobile Incident Command Vehicle is the third emergency management vehicle the company has produced. The other two are in Arlington and Loudoun counties in Virginia.
Several other communities are getting similar mobile command centers.
Last August, Anne Arundel County unveiled a similar vehicle, the 40-foot-long Mobile Command and Communications Unit built by Parole-based ARINC. The $820,000 vehicle was put to use almost immediately when county workers went to Louisiana to aid in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
However, Mr. Flannigan said the state police vehicle is primarily for Marylanders.
"I hope we never have to use it," Col. Hutchins said.



Sep 10, 2003
Rising Sun, MD
bigbluemsp said:
Ready for manmade disasters, or natural ones, the command vehicle can come to the rescue of local law enforcement agencies by improving communication between them.

Makes me wonder how many command vehicles you need... Now that every organization and county has one & they're all made to let every one talk together who will get to be the one that actually does all the work? Or will there just be a whole parking lot of CV's talking back & forth to each other?


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Apr 9, 2003
RyanXTS said:
Hopefully it never has to go up a hill.

It won't go up a hill. I dont understand why every county in MD needs one of those beast's.


Dec 19, 2002
Washington Post ran an article today on this....

Police Station Goes Mobile
Troopers' Vehicle Is High-Tech And Stylish

By Eric Rich
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 20, 2006; Page SM03

Maryland State Police officers visited Annapolis recently to show off their new mobile command center, a sleek and finely styled $1.15 million vehicle that they said is the largest of its kind in the nation.

The Mobile Incident Command Vehicle gets only about seven miles per gallon, but the trade-off is its array of capabilities, officials said. The vehicle is, in effect, a rolling police station, with a dispatch center and rooftop observation deck, and it can replace a barracks if one is knocked out of commission.

"This is not just a state police toy so we can ride around and say we got the biggest and the baddest," said Greg Shipley, a police spokesman. "This is a resource for everybody in the state."

The 56-foot-long vehicle looks something like a cross between a bus, truck and recreational vehicle. It has an exterior flat-screen monitor for outdoor briefings and radio, microwave, satellite, telephone and wireless technology that can integrate with communications systems used by state, local and federal agencies.

Oh, and it has a 300-gallon fuel tank.

"It is reassuring to know that we now have the best tool available in the nation to enable Maryland to respond better than ever before," said Col. Thomas E. "Tim" Hutchins.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) said: "Our goal is to make certain law enforcement and emergency rescue personnel can provide continuity of services and operations to communities across Maryland even if their resources have been impacted by [a] disaster. This vehicle will enable us to do that."

The vehicle was paid for by the Maryland State Highway Administration and the state police and with USA Patriot Act money. A competitive bid by Kingsley Coach of Minnesota was chosen, and the installation of technology was subcontracted to Bickford Industries of Chantilly.

Shipley said the risk of a terrorist attack contributed to the sense that such a vehicle was needed. "We realize the significance of the location we're in," he said, "and the fact that we have a lot of targets not only in the state of Maryland, but we certainly surround the District."

The vehicle's predecessor was far inferior, a smaller bus "with a few radios in the back and a few chairs up front and one 19-inch TV that's strapped down to a table," Shipley said.

The mobile headquarters' computing power is supported by four servers and more than 300 miles of wiring. The vehicle also features granite countertops, cherry-stained oak cabinetry and recessed lighting.

"We wanted someone to come in here and be awestruck, and, of course, we wanted it to be tasteful," said Michael E. Bennett, director of the state police's Electronic Systems Division.

The vehicle is stationed at the Waterloo Barracks in Jessup, in Howard County, but can be sent anywhere in the state. Police said it could be dispatched in response to anything from a large traffic accident to a terror attack. In the coming months, it will be driven around the state so that police departments can become familiar with it.

One of the vehicle's drivers, Charlie C. Lester, a retired trooper and now a civilian employee, said it rides smoothly.

"It's just like a big luxury car," he said.


Dec 19, 2002
Annapolis, MD
A couple folks 'in the know' were telling me they had to measure the truck then go change the law this year to make it legal to drive in Maryland. Don't know if it's true but it's a good story.
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Jan 20, 2005
2gigch1 said:
A couple folks 'in the know' were telling me they had to measurethe truck then go change the law this year to make it legal to drive in Maryland. Don't know if it's tru but it's a good story.
I heard the same thing myself from another LEO, but it doesn't sound right to me b/c tractor trailers and most of your buses that famous people ride in are as big as the command bus are longer and bigger. On a second note MSP would probably get away with it b/c they are the law...
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