The Northern Illinois Police Alarm System (NIPAS) is a joint venture made up of 65 suburban municipal police departments in northern Illinois-including five counties in the Chicagoland area-working through an intergovernmental mutual aid agreement
. It provides capabilities and assistance for any situation a local member agency cannot handle on its own.
NIPAS’ expenditures are funded through a set annual fee paid by member agencies. In 1987, NIPAS expanded its mission by creating a special tactical squad known as the Emergency Services Team in which member agencies voluntarily participate. The eight units in the team include tactical command, entry, containment, marksmen, negotiations, tactical medical emergency services, canine, and support services.
The organization’s newest vehicle, built by Pierce Manufacturing
, is designed as an all-purpose unit. It is deployed to every operation the Emergency Services Team is deployed to, as well as hostage situations, large-scale events, and even dignitary protection. A single person drives it from its central location to the scene with all of the required gear on board.
Behind the driver is a command area with six radios and all of the frequencies of the 65 active NIPAS communities as well as statewide interoperability frequencies. There is also an area dedicated for negotiations personnel to interview people in a controlled environment. The vehicle can also be used as a secondary command post if the team has multiple SWAT calls going on simultaneously.
Since it is a support unit for the Emergency Services Team, the vehicle carries a wide variety of SWAT equipment including ballistic shields-up to Level IV rifle shields-and ballistic blankets. It also has an array of lighting equipment that allows the team to bathe a house in a wall of light, two 200-foot cord reels, and a 30kW onboard generator for situations where there isn’t access to power.
Breaching and entry equipment on the truck include 12 pike poles ranging from 6- to 12-feet long, as well as breaching tools for window breaks and other types of entry. Also in inventory are six flash bang poles, including 12-foot long second story models that allow teams to remotely and instantly initiate a distraction device. Multiple ladders carried include 20-foot extension ladders and a double assault ladder that can put two personnel up onto a second story.
The 40-foot NIPAS vehicle uses a Velocity custom chassis with TAK-4 independent front suspension. Drivers, when they tested similar vehicles during the selection process, were very pleased with how it handled and its smooth ride, as well as the fact that personnel could communicate with each other inside the cab without having to wear headsets. They then worked with the company to lay out every piece of equipment to be carried on the vehicle, ask questions, and map out storage options.
NIPAS members feel that the number one advantage to the truck is enhanced workability. They set up the vehicle so their teams can work more effectively and safely, even leaving a little room to accommodate future equipment needs. “It’s not just going to work for us tomorrow. It’s going to work long into the future.” Jim Weiss is a retired lieutenant from the Brook Park, OH, Police Department and a frequent contributor to LAW and ORDER. Weiss may be reached at JWEISS2109@aol.com . Mickey Davis is a California-based writer and author. Davis may be reached at MDavisFLA@aol.com.