Police Department debuts incident command trailer
Donations from community make unique facility a reality
Brown Deer — A new Incident Command/Mobile Crime Scene trailer that is expected to increase the efficiency of the Police Department could not have become a reality without the help of the community.
"People in the community really stepped up and helped with this," Police Chief Steven Rinzel said.
The command trailer was purchased and equipped entirely with donations, removing any reservations Rinzel had about its addition to the department. It's a one-of-a-kind piece of equipment among the North Shore departments.
Capts. Shawn Noel and John Graeber and Sgt. Jonathan Schmitz brought the idea to the chief, who agreed having a command center for larger incidents would be helpful but was concerned about cost.
Minimal operational costs
The Brown Deer Foundation donated $5,400 for the trailer. Others helped equip it with cabinets (TAB Co.), custom-designed and manufactured stainless steel tables (Argon Industries), a special table support/back rest for a bench (Milsco), chairs, storage bins and other necessities (Brown Deer Junior Woman's Club) for its operation. Noel anticipates minimal operational costs, items like an occasional tire replacement and gas for the vehicle that pulls the trailer.
Getting the trailer up and running is simplified by the fact that new in-squad laptop computers can be easily moved from squads to the trailer establishing instant Internet and dispatch access.
"An incident commander can run a whole incident from right here in the trailer," Noel said.
The trailer has maps and materials used to gather and bag evidence, allowing officers to stay on scene.
"It helps keep us from running back and forth to the station 25 times," Rinzel said.
The trailer also would provide work space for other agencies, such as the sheriff or Federal Bureau of Investigation, if they are called to help with an incident.
Provides shelter for workers
Beyond the basic efficiency provided, the trailer also will provide shelter during cold or extremely hot weather.
Noel recalled a stabbing incident in the parking lot of a tavern around 2 a.m.
"It was below-zero weather," he said. Processing a crime scene such as that can take four to five hours. Having a spot to warm up is appreciated.
Officers faced the other extreme, hot weather, last September after a pedestrian death on Green Bay Road. Several other agencies and local officers were out at the scene for more than 12 hours. The trailer has air conditioning to provide relief.
Noel said the trailer needs only to be plugged into an electrical source for its heat and air conditioning, but the department hopes to add a portable generator someday.
The department gave the trailer a live test during the recent Fourth of July activities.
"We put it in the parking lot and ran the parade and fireworks from here," Noel said. The incident commander knew when the roads were shut down, where the parade was located and how traffic was flowing after the fireworks.
Dispatchers freed up
With the trailer in use, the dispatch center is free to handle other calls. All calls about the Fourth of July celebration were handled in the trailer.
"Most people don't realize that there are other calls that come in even during major events," Rinzel said.
Asked how often he would expect the department to use the trailer during the course of a year, Rinzel said, "Absolutely never except for the Fourth of July."
But that would be in a perfect-world scenario. Noel said in 2008 the department would have used it five or six times.
It will be used on a regular basis for the Fourth of July, Deer Run and the upcoming National Night Out on July 29. Residents will be able to visit it during the National Night Out activities, seeing what community donations have brought to the village.
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