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Black Pearl could make a splash for police department

Public safety — Police department will use newly retrofitted mobile incident command vehicle to investigate major crimes or in disaster situations


Using ingenuity and volunteer work, the Newberg-Dundee Police Department has converted a retired Newberg Fire Department rescue unit into its new mobile incident command vehicle for a fraction of the price a new model would have cost.

by: GARY ALLEN - Extreme makeover: First responder edition -- The Newberg-Dundee Police Department has converted a retired Newberg Fire Department rescue unit into its new mobile incident command vehicle for a fraction of the price a new model would have cost.

The fire department’s original vehicle, made in 1999, cost $140,000, but the NDPD was able to purchase, repaint and retrofit the unit to serve its needs for a total of about $29,000. The bulk of that — approximately $18,500 — went to the fire department to purchase the vehicle.

“Instead of just saying, ‘Here’s a blank check,’ we really try to watch what we spend as much as possible,” NDPD Capt. Jeff Kosmicki said. “And this was an opportunity where we were really able to save a tremendous amount of money for the taxpayers.”

The NDPD was creative in its approach to replacing the light fixtures that adorned the vehicle. Using the online auction site eBay, the department was ultimately able to replace the bulbs with updated, LED units for just more than $2,500. The lights were installed on a volunteer basis by NDPD officers. Kosmicki said the lights, alone, would have cost more than twice as much if they had been purchased new and installed by a body shop.

The paint job, which transformed the unit from the NFD’s candy apple red to an imposing black more in line with the NDPD’s color scheme, was done locally by Newberg’s True Form Collision Repair.

The new mobile command unit will replace an older and smaller police command unit that was also acquired from the fire department nearly 10 years ago and has been non-operational for some time, Kosmicki said.

“We’re very excited about it,” he said, adding that officers have taken to nicknaming the vehicle the “Black Pearl” — which is also the name of a ship in Disney’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” film series, but is more a nod to the unit’s color than anything. “It’s one of those things you don’t really think of until you need it at a scene.”

The vehicle houses all the necessary supplies, tools, evidence kits and weather protection equipment necessary for the police department to preserve, process and investigate any crime scene, major incident, search warrant or natural disaster, Kosmicki said.

“We’ll use it at any major crime, or when we get called to assist in another jurisdiction,” he said. “But this would roll on really any major incident, like if there was an earthquake or something like that, this would be perfect.”

The unit will also be equipped with recording devices and used as a private, secured area in which to interview potential suspects, witnesses and victims of crimes, without having to transport people back and forth from the Newberg Public Safety Building.

The vehicle will also be used for training exercises and during community events — as it was just last month at the Old Fashioned Festival and Special Olympics. All in all, Kosmicki said he expects the vehicle to be used about two to three times a month.



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