It's amazing what you can get for $1 these days, but that's exactly how much Mount Pleasant Police paid for their new mobile command center.
MPPD Chief Tim Zarzecki showed Patch the newest member of the fleet Friday, which is very nearly ready to be put to work. The department has long been looking for a way to add a mobile command center without spending a lot of money in the process.
"A new vehicle could cost tens of thousands of dollars or more," he said. "Doing it this way really was a great way to go."
The command vehicle is a 1995 ambulance that the City of Racine Fire Department was retiring. All RFD medical units are red, and this was the only white box left in their department. Instead of just carting it off to a salvage lot, Chief Steve Hansen sold the unit to Zarzecki for $1.
Zarzecki said the vehicle is needed to serve as a central point for officers and for dispatch during major incidents.
"Fire does this really well and now we can make things more efficient when we have a scene that requires meetings and planning," he added.
The vehicle can also be used for safety fairs, education events and during special community activities like the Ironman Triathalon and the Skeleton Skamper.
"It's mobile so it can go anywhere," Zarzecki added. And he's offered the use of it to smaller agencies in neighboring communities, too.
In exchange for the $1 deal, the RFD will place transmitters on the tower at the Mount Pleasant police station for better fire and police communications.
It needed some minor mechanical work, the radio had to be re-programmed and there need to be some tweaks to the back to make it more suitable for police and not patients, but all-in-all, the ambulance is in good shape.
All the RFD logo signage had to be stripped away, too, and the MPPD decals added, but even that was relatively inexpensive. Adding department decals on regular squads can run $600-$700, and The Sign Shop took care of the new command center for $1,000.
"We have needed a central command center for a while now," Zarzecki stated. "The challenge was getting one by being as frugal as possible."