(Staff photo/ Brittany Powell)
The Wapakoneta Police Department and Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office are undergoing training in two command vehicles, which are used as alternative dispatch locations.
“Any emergency — if you have a very large crime scene — you can put it in and have all of your resources right there,” Lieutenant Steve Stienecker said.
Stienecker said the command vehicles provide dispatchers the use of radio communications and dispatch system operations.
He said the vehicles are crucial in responding to an emergency that requires on-scene personnel for long periods of time, including natural disasters.
“They used them in Hancock County when they had all of that flooding a few years ago,” Stienecker said. “They used them at country concert when they had a large group and all different kinds of agencies there with radio frequencies.”
The main benefit to law enforcement is that the vehicle enables multiple agencies, including the sheriff offices, fire departments, EMS agencies and police departments to establish one location to work out of and communicate.
“It’s a complete communications service,” Stienecker said.
Stienecker said there are 11 command vehicles distributed by the Buckeye State Sheriffs’ Association throughout Ohio. The one being used for training in Auglaize County is currently maintained by the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office and can be utilized by local authorities in case of a need.
“They were given out for a federal grant and placed in different parts of the state, and Mercer County volunteered to take one,” Stienecker said. “If they get called out, they are to bring it and respond within so many hours to a scene — that’s why they are placed all over the state.”
In addition to the sheriff’s vehicle, the EMA command vehicle was available for training. The county has utilized this vehicle at the county fair, country concert and other events with large crowds. Stienecker said the EMA’s vehicle is similar in operation.
Auglaize County law enforcement officers will continue their four-hour sessions of learning the system operations of the vehicles today at the sheriff’s office. Although some have been trained to use the equipment before, Stienecker said any new personnel are being trained so they can have as many available responders as possible.
“Because it’s probably going to set for hours, and you can’t expect one dispatcher to do it for seven days in a row,” Stienecker said, in case of an event where the vehicles are required.