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Hendon Publishing

Emergency Vehicles, Inc.

Emergency Vehicles, Inc., manufactures vehicles for just about any law enforcement need regardless of the size of the department or budget, including Command Vehicles, HazMat, Tactical, Crime Scene, Bomb/EOD, DUI, and other specialty vehicles.   


Lawrenceville, GA Police

Captain Jeff Smith

, Investigative Services Bureau,

Lawrenceville PD

, stated, “

Planning is key for the purchase of any large specialty vehicle. Spending the extra time to think through the needs of the department and personnel is very important because most departments cannot afford a do-over if the vehicle does not suit their needs. The ability to customize was an important component of our success with our specialty vehicles. 

“By using Emergency Vehicles, Inc. (EVI), we were able to discuss our ideas with their team and get insight into previous projects they had completed. The vehicles are custom-built to meet our needs and desires, not using a cookie-cutter approach, which is important for such a large capital expenditure.”  

Lawrenceville uses both EVI mobile command and EVI crime scene vehicles. They had to decide upon either a walk-in box or storage only for their crime scene vehicle. They opted for more storage in lieu of a walk-in box, storage space outweighing the benefits of having an inside workspace. They visited other agencies to find what they liked and disliked about their vehicles and also compiled a list of needed equipment for the vehicle from these interviews, asking them, “What one piece of equipment has been the most valuable to you?” and “What piece of equipment did you not have initially that you found you needed?” 

Their crime scene unit is equipped with an often-used Will-Burt telescoping light tower for scene lighting for dark scenes. “The storage areas were well-crafted, with pull-out trays and shelving to allow for access to items deeper in the storage area. We have attempted to equip our vehicle with all tools necessary for a crime scene or crash investigation scene.   

“We have a Leica total station, a Leica C-10 3-D laser scanner, and other expensive high-tech items on board, but we also have rakes, shovels, and power tools, and Scott SCBA equipment.  The storage space allows for methodical organization of our equipment to allow ease of use and finding the right equipment when needed. Organization of your equipment is important, as a crime scene is not the time for an Easter-egg hunt to figure out where your equipment is.”

Smith’s best advice to a department looking for a crime scene vehicle is to plan for as many projected needs as feasible, talk to others to gain their experience and insight, and, once delivered, have a plan to organize equipment. 


Lawrenceville’s Mobile Command Vehicle

Lawrenceville’s experience with EVI building the crime scene vehicle convinced them to work again with EVI to build their Mobile Command Vehicle, custom-crafted to their specifications.   “The craftsmanship of their personnel is beyond reproach,” Smith reported. They again surveyed other departments about their experiences with mobile command vehicles. Smith stated the biggest battle in mobile command vehicle planning seems to be whether or not to put a restroom on board, which has obvious advantages, but its presence creates unnecessary traffic in the unit during an operation and it takes up space, which is in high-demand in mobile command vehicles.

They have a central galley and water closet, communications area forward, and a command and conference area to the rear. EVI provided as much magnetic whiteboard space as possible and was able to make the modification of a second electronics rack when they decided they needed two instead of one. Four computer workstations are rack-mounted instead of using actual workspace to place a computer, with the more expensive solid state drives, as the computers were in a mobile environment.   

The vehicle was built primarily as a communications platform, with eight radios, including three Harris Unity radios and a Raytheon ACU-1000 to increase capabilities for interoperability. Data streams were obtained through the use of a Pepwave router equipped with three air cards from two different cellular providers and they use a Squire Tech satellite system as a back-up. 

The mobile command vehicle was built to allow for a robust redundant system for their communications room to operate in the case of a catastrophic failure and they wanted the utility of an on-scene or forward command platform for extended operations. They have utilized the Mobile Command Vehicle for investigations such as homicides, public relations, and for planned events. Important considerations for the MCV included access control, multi-form communications such as radio, telephone, and data, and overall utility for extended operations. 


Miami Beach, FL Police

Lt. David Hernandez

, Operations Division, Miami Beach PD, stated, “Picking a local company was huge because budget constraints do not allow us to travel far away to be present during different parts of the building process. We changed things almost weekly because we were close enough to visit and we got a much better truck, more responsive to our needs because of that.”   Rails were preinstalled with tubing and cables to make the vehicle more available for future enhancements.

He reported that no matter how well it is made, there will always be things such as hydraulics that require servicing. Their proximity allowed them to have servicing done by the manufacturer. “It is much easier to go back to those who built the vehicle and have love and compassion for it.”      

Miami Beach is a very event-driven city with clubs and night life, juggling as many as three or four major events at one time, things like the hundreds of thousands of people who prefer staying at Miami Beach during Super Bowl times. After not having a mobile command vehicle for several years, they were finally able to get funding through drug enforcement funds such as DEA’s High Intensity Drug Trafficking (HIDT) and the Law Enforcement Trust Fund (LETF).  This drug money allowed them to purchase nearly an $800,000 vehicle with the only cost to the city the logo and lettering. Hernandez said they tell the public, “Thank your local drug dealer for this truck.”

Miami Beach surveyed numerous other agencies to determine what new technology they would use, what they would do differently, and their planned and unplanned uses of the truck. They needed their vehicle to be multi-purpose since it would be the only one they could purchase.  There will always be leaks and water seepage and they wanted no wood, which would rot, and EVI uses no wood, allowing for easily sealing leaks. After putting out specs and getting responses, they made a site visit to EVI and were very impressed with how they handled the building process.  

Their vehicle has a 25kW generator with an 80-gallon fuel tank, which will run their truck for four to five days. Three roof AC units have rails that drain down within the sidewall of the side of the truck rather than staining the sides or leaking on people. The generator vents through the roof to avoid fumes. First responders and citizens often need air at disaster sights and EVI set up an outlet from the air compressor that works their masts to air up bikes, ATVs, and other vehicle tires.  

An outside door panel has different plugs for phone lines, Ethernet, or other connections. Two battery banks for redundancy allow them to run off either one or both combined. While most trucks are set up to run off only one source, their truck runs off the generator, batteries or nearby electrical power. 

They have security cams on the mast, as well as cams on each side and on the front and back, visible on any of the monitors in the truck. They can broadcast with their WiFi or someone else’s WiFi and have multiple ways to access the Internet, including a satellite dish that turns and locks onto a satellite.

One of the 57-foot and 47-foot masts is used for communications with microwave antenna and they raise it to lock on other areas of the city with microwave to set up for Internet and VoIP.  Other communications work on a Pepwave device with three data cards allowing them to access two different carriers, ATT and Verizon, enabling continuous communications during times of high data use by the public. The other mast has cameras that pan, tilt, and zoom up to two miles, allowing them to look at scenes from a distance away.  

Their conference room for command staff has the ability for professional conference calls and includes a 60-inch Sharp Aquos smart computer dry erase board to see aerial views and maps and write on it. Two slide-out rooms have large smart monitors that operate independently of each other and dry erase boards are all over the inside. 

Their uninterrupted power source for computers has power surge protection, including a full-size scanner, copier and printer. The central area galley has a refrigerator, coffeemaker, sink with five-gallon water bottles, closets and storage, and a medical area with a defibrillator, glucose and a trauma bag. Hernandez pointed out, “When you are deploying the truck at the scene, officers are working long hours and they can quickly walk up and get what they need, including replenishing their gloves, plus hand cleaner dispensers and a fire extinguisher are also available.”   

Coolers are available with ice water and other beverages. The officers who take their breaks later can still have warm food with their setup, which includes a microwave, toaster and industrial coffee maker. Equipment is available at the galley to charge multiple cell phones when the officers take their breaks.

The back area has a separate door with one slide-out with four computer stations, and four radios to include police, fire, and two multi-use for country frequencies, Coast Guard or aviation.   Their 46-inch smart TV opens up outside with dry erase boards and a folding table.


State-of-the-Art Surveillance Platforms

James Costner, EVI’s SVU Director (Surveillance Vehicle Unit), explained that surveillance units are not necessarily surveillance vehicles, cars, vans, etc., but rather they are surveillance platforms, although of course surveillance equipment can be integrated into a vehicular application.      

Costner stated, “The surveillance equipment we design and manufacture is unique to EVI and it is the creation of the SVU division. Both the structural design and the integration are unique to EVI. Likewise, the integration of the A/C is unique to EVI. Essentially, all systems, from structural, to electrical, from electronics to ergonomics, have been uniquely designed for the specific purpose of maximizing the performance and comfort of surveillance platforms.”

The Video Processing and Evidence Recording (ViPER) Structural Modular Design is uniquely an EVI product. Rapid advances in technology as well as the need to easily service, upgrade, or relocate the equipment have been the driving forces behind the ViPER Module design. The ViPER Module is self-contained, making it a recoverable asset, vitally important with the budget constraints faced by most law enforcement agencies. This feature of the ViPER module allows for removal and reinstallation in a multitude of subsequent host surveillance platforms.  

Commonly other designs relied on the host platform for structural integrity, making it impossible to remove the structure and equipment and re-install it into another platform. If the original host platform must be replaced, this confers the ability to preserve the initial investment in components and labor. The ViPER’s modular design and bilateral access substantially enhance field serviceability and upgradeability. The ViPER module allows unrestricted access from the front as well as from the rear of the equipment while other designs only allow access from the front.

Costner reported that officer safety is one of the main purposes of the surveillance platform, as well as its use for gathering intelligence. He pointed out that most law enforcement agencies have a memorial honoring their fallen officers such as the L.A. County Sheriff’s office at their Star Center in Los Angeles. Officer safety is a major concern with a loss of 126 officers in 2014 alone.

Situational awareness keeps officers safer and allows officers doing surveillance to maintain control of their environment. EVI’s unique situational awareness system is capable of maintaining a complete 360-degree perimeter security while tracking up to eight separate stationary targets in separate PTZ windows without losing the 360-degree perimeter security view or the ability to monitor and/or record the long-range surveillance cameras.

Costner stated, “All our surveillance platforms are being custom designed and manufactured to meet specific customer operational requirements. All these technologies are available and EVI has been at the forefront of integrating advanced technologies into its Covert Surveillance Platforms. However, the integration of specific advanced technologies is driven by many criteria including statutory as well as budgetary, operational and jurisdictional.”

EVI continually integrates the most advanced cameras available in their state-of-the-art surveillance platforms. The most important capability of the surveillance platform is its ability to see clearly as far as possible in the most adverse conditions.

Costner reported, “To that end, our Covert Surveillance Platforms are equipped with an array of Long Range Color Day/Night Cameras able to Pan, Tilt and Zoom at least 36X Optical/12X Digital, producing a 1080P High-Definition Picture Resolution and ‘seeing’ as low as 0.008lux at 30IRE F1.4 in the dark.” Surveillance operations vary in length depending on the agency, location, specific mission, and other factors and platforms are designed for efficiency and comfort. The design of the ViPER module took into consideration several parameters.   

Creating a unique Operator Centric Interior was a top priority. By increasing comfort, reducing the number of controls requiring manual operator input, placing controls within easy reach, providing adequate lighting and temperature control, adjusting the angle of the viewing monitors as well as the working counter, together with increasing the overall surveillance compartment space available to the operator, EVI was able to design the most ergonomic, comfortable and efficient workstation environment suitable for extended operations currently integrated into a surveillance platform.

Additionally, by taking advantage of the latest advances in communication technology, all ViPER surveillance platforms can be operated remotely as unmanned units. Simultaneous operation as manned units with remote viewing capability is also possible. Optionally, all ViPER Covert Surveillance Platforms offer backward compatibility with legacy analog surveillance systems, allowing substantial investments in older but still functional equipment to be preserved.


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


. She can be reached at

Published in Law and Order, Jul 2016

Rating : Not Yet Rated

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