The MSV is another in a continuing line of vehicles that the UCPD has purchased in the last year, all with the intent of, in Union City Mayor Brian Stack's words, "making the Union City Police Department the best it can possibly be."
Within the last two years, the city's police department has purchased a D.A.R.E. anti-drug vehicle, two Harley-Davidson Patrol Motorcycles, three Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor model patrol cars and an Emergency Services Unit. All of these purchases have been profiled in the pages of The Union City Reporter.
According to Union City Police Department Chief Charles Everett, the vehicle will aid the department in a variety of ways.
"Well, what this will allow us to do is control various scenes from one vehicle," said Everett in a telephone conversation last week. "It will be outfitted with an MDT [Mobile Data Transmission] computer, an external camera mounted on a pole to monitor an area. We can also run plates and have meeting between supervisors. In fact, the only thing it doesn't have is a cell, which the old one did. And as a practical matter, we never used it anyway."
Added Everett, "Plus, it's not as big as the old Mobile Command Unit [not so affectionately referred to as "The Whale"] we used to have - it's a smaller unit, which is important in a town as tight as Union City.
The vehicle, made by the North Carolina-based company Sirchie, Inc., is basically a 17-inch box truck body mounted on a Ford F-750 chassis.
According to Everett, Union City's MCV is being modeled after Hackensack's unit. Said Everett, "A few of us went over to Hackensack and took a look at their unit and decided that was the way we wanted to go."
According to Hackensack Deputy Police Chief Frank Ziza, Hackensack's MCV, which was delivered in November 2003, is used in a variety of ways.
"We have used it for several different things," said Ziza last week. "There are a few categories of things it is utilized for. Namely, neighborhood programs such as the National Night Out Against Crime and the Youth Police Academy. We also use it for scheduled events, such park events. Anywhere there is a large concentration of police officers, we can control their movements from the unit."
Ziza also mentioned the importance of the vehicle in keeping a police presence in the city, something that the Union City Police Department hopes to accomplish as well. Said Ziza, "You can't miss it. It's a decent size."
But the vehicle's most important design aspect is it's ability to respond to emergency situations rapidly and to act as a communications base at a scene, be it a fire, crime or crowd control scene. The unit will be outfitted with all the necessary lights and sirens and emergency equipment. This unit differs from Union City's Emergency Services Unit in that it does not contain any tactical equipment as the ESU does. With the addition of the MCV, Union City truly will be prepared for any eventuality.
The vehicle will be paid for by federal law enforcement block grant funds and according to Union City Police Department Lieutenant Nilsa "Candy" Gordon, the vehicle will cost $111,267 and will be delivered within six months. Gordon is responsible for negotiating with prospective bids and writing grants for equipment.
"It will be some time before we get it," said Gordon last week. "First, the purchase order has to be put in then they have to build it." Average build time is approximately four to five months. Added Gordon, "This is money well spent. We'll have a vehicle that will fit the streets of Union City."
With the addition of this latest vehicle, the police department is slowly but surely becoming one of the best-trained and best-outfitted departments in Hudson County. And this is something that Union City Mayor Brian Stack made a commitment to when he first came into office.
Said Stack last week, "This is a vehicle that will allow us to be present in every neighborhood in the city, should the need arise. And with all the fires we have in Union City, this vehicle is even more important to have. What we'll have is a police headquarters in the field. We can now compete with large departments like Jersey City and Newark."