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Hendon Publishing

Trends in Mobile Command and Specialty Vehicles

Mobile command and other specialty vehicles are changing with emerging technology and manufacturers are meeting customers’ needs for high-tech products and the latest innovations in storage and security. Industry leaders are making sure that their vehicles meet high-tech needs and provide customers with information about trends in the field.


Dodgen Mobile Technologies

Dodgen Mobile Technologies manufactures police, sheriff, and other emergency response vehicles from the bare chassis to completion, including the fiberglass bodies, in-house cabinetry, their own sewing, and final-stage quality testing. They build vehicles from 21–33 feet in overall length, as well as trailers 16–44 feet long, partnering with a local trailer company.

Dennis Day,

Vice President, Commercial Division

, reports agencies are struggling to get funding for police vehicles and are forced to accept the low bid. He stated, “Often, we see 7–10 companies bid on a project and well-established companies who typically compete are being beat out by small unknown companies with perhaps little experience because they bid low.”


“Those preparing and sending out “Requests for Quotation” must spend time researching what they want and carefully wording their bid specifications to assure that they get quality materials and workmanship, as well as a company that will be around to provide warranty, service, and parts for years to come. Agencies wait too long to get these vehicles to be stuck with a poor quality, poor performing vehicle.”

He pointed out that no well-established company would bid on specs created using a cut-and-paste of several companies’ literature pieces because there would be too many exceptions to the bid to make any reasonable offer. Agencies get few bids to seriously consider and those may be from companies not following the specs closely. Dodgen will assist bid writers with proposals to get good offers for their specifications.


Farber Specialty Vehicles

Farber Specialty Vehicles is a world leader in the design and construction of mobile command, communications, bomb/EOD, crime scene, equipment and non-armored police and fire specialty vehicles.

Steve Goodyear, VP of Sales at Farber Specialty Vehicles, reported, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. As a major builder of Police and Fire Specialty Vehicles, our daily interaction is with front-line professionals. To say that the last year has been a trying year on many of them is an understatement. We are proud to say that every time a Farber Specialty Vehicle or for that matter any of our fine competitors’ vehicles are built, we are all helping to ‘Militarize the Police and Fire Departments.’” 

He followed up by saying that every time a command post rolls out for a school or holiday event or to fingerprint children, the community is safer and it is a better way to directly communicate with citizens. Working residential crime scenes without all the tools to protect the innocent and prove guilt is hard to imagine. Mobile units to secure highways and accomplish accident reconstruction identifies weaknesses in roads and intersections, making travel safer. SWAT negotiators talk people off the ledge and other units locate lost people.

Goodyear commented, “Nothing proves more demanding on our communities than when a natural disaster strikes and nothing is better than seeing a large Mobile Command Center or Mobile 911 unit arrive with trained staff to put things back together. You be the judge of whether we are militarizing our safety force or just preparing them with the best equipment to serve.”


Frontline Communications

Frontline Communications, a division of Pierce Manufacturing, Inc., an Oshkosh Corporation Compan

y, is ISO 9001 certified and designs and manufactures highly engineered mobile command centers in its Clearwater, Fla. facility.


Frontline Communications, a leader in the design and manufacturing of highly engineered Mobile Command and Communications Vehicles, offers a unique Multi-Plex System that provides monitoring and control of all vehicle systems, both AC and DC powered.


Frontline has now developed an innovative new feature, the Multiplex Control System MCS-100, which lets you connect tablets or smartphones to Frontline’s Multiplex System. This means you can monitor and control the command vehicle’s electrical systems remotely, using Maretron’s


® software. With Frontline’s MCS-100 Feature, you are not limited to the direct connected display and can use any device (Android or Apple based) running N2KView® software to monitor and control the vehicle.

“This new control feature allows the most flexibility possible for monitoring and controlling, command and communications vehicle operations. The MCS-100 is a high-performance feature, which will provide much needed flexibility during the deployment and missions of Frontline’s Command and Communications vehicles,” said Steve Williamson, Director of Sales at Frontline. Frontline installed the MCS-100 control feature in San Francisco Airport’s C-40X-3 Mobile Command Vehicle, delivered in April 2015.


LDV Inc.

Mary Lynch with LDV reports that

vehicle size trends are all over the board. There is an increase in orders for large slide-out vehicles and flat floor slide-out rooms to maximize usable space. Conversely, they are seeing increased inquiries for their

Agile Command

™ vehicles, small command and communications vehicles built on a 24-foot bumper-to-bumper cab chassis, with workstations, electronics storage, conference room and galley.


Lynch elaborate,

“Customers are moving from analog video to digital format cameras.


Departments are installing microwave downlinks, satellite and 4G wireless modems for communication equipment, citing redundancy after a disaster when cellular towers would be unavailable or over-utilized. Automated deployment and automated safety features are becoming standard.”

Multipurpose vehicles used as mobile substations or housing bomb response and SWAT equipment, with larger conference rooms, and electronics rack(s) to centralize electronics are popular. Lynch noted there is a trend moving away from on-board lavatories because it uses valuable space, requires maintenance and becomes an inside traffic issue. Exterior workstations are ordered to utilize typically underutilized space, keep traffic from the inside, and allow a large group to be addressed.

Customers are planning for longevity and long vehicle life. Twenty-year-old vehicles have regularly come back for technology updates or reconfigurations and are returned as operationally current with technology and operations as vehicles built yesterday. Lynch stated, “This can’t happen without selecting the right platform and builder the first time.” Accessible raceways are being installed to simplify adding or replacing outdated technology.




Matthews Specialty Vehicles

Matthews Specialty Vehicles specializes in the design and manufacture of purpose-built vehicles used in public safety, mobile healthcare, mobile blood collection services, and other services.


Matthews’ vehicles are built to customers’ specifications to ensure a seamless fit with their operations. These vehicles can be found serving private sector organizations, law enforcement agencies, governments and military organizations across the country and even around the world. 

Dennis Hoag, Sales Director stated, “One of the first steps in our process is to get to know our customer, their needs, and their envisioned use of their specialty vehicle. We ask questions and take notes, guiding them through the process of the design, build and delivery of their new vehicle. Our in-house team of designers and engineers then work to make our customer’s vision a reality.”

Hoag recommends that customers designing a new public safety vehicle take a forward look at technology and plan for retrofitting technology during the life of the vehicle. “As voice and data communication system technology is changing, public safety organizations must stay abreast of the newest technological advances. Having the wiring for new technology installed during the build makes retrofit installation more cost effective and we recommend communication redundancy by including a cell and landline, satellite communication and radio communication, because service may be disrupted during critical incident response.” They also suggest dedicating part of a command vehicle to privacy for commanders for space for confidential meetings, private calls, or reviewing sensitive information.


Sirchie Vehicle Division

According to Aubrey Hall, Sirchie Vehicle Division, agencies are upgrading existing vehicles to stay current with new technologies on reduced and limited budgets. IP and Cellular Modem technology is a key area of change in existing vehicles because this technology allows the deployed Command Vehicle to be remotely monitored.


Basic upgrades extend vehicles’ overall life cycles, such as replacing both older 120V AC and 12V DC interior lighting with higher-output and lower-consumption LED lighting. Older high-drain Halogen scene and flood lighting exterior lights can be replaced with higher-output and lower-drain LED lighting. On-board generator fuel consumption is reduced by lessening the power drain, keeping the vehicle on scene longer without refueling. These upgrades keep a department abreast of current technologies with a fully functional state-of-the-art command vehicle at a fraction of the replacement price.

Multi-function units address the same fiscal issues above, and in addition to dedicated vehicles for Evidence Collection, Cyber/Computer Crimes and Mobile Command/Communication, Sirchie also offers a combination Crime Scene/Command vehicle and a Crime Scene Vehicle with an area for Digital and Computer evidence processing because customers are now combining some of these functions into an individual vehicle.


Hall stated, “Sirchie routinely works with law enforcement agencies to develop and manufacture specialized police vehicles to meet individual department needs. Whether the requirement is application driven or trying to stretch a tight budget to obtain a functional vehicle to fill an operational void, our staff is experienced at making needs and budgets match.”


Kathy Marks has been a child abuse investigator for more than 30 years. She teaches classes regarding domestic terrorism and is a previous contributor to LAW and ORDER. She can be reached at

Published in Law and Order, Jul 2015

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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