Emergency operations personnel in Manchester - as well as police and fire officers from nearby South Windsor, Glastonbury and East Hartford - showcased a pair of new vehicles and a brand new regional emergency operations center in Manchester Thursday afternoon.
The vehicles and the new center, which will be housed at 321 Olcott St. in Manchester, were paid for through a combination of federal grants and funds from the Capital Region Council of Governments (CRCOG), a conglomerate of 30 municipalities, including Tolland, in the metro Hartford area. The two vehicles, a 38-foot mobile command post, and an armored vehiclep primarily for SWAT team operations, known as the "Bearcat," will be available to all the towns, but will be housed in South Windsor and Manchester respectively. The regional operation center will be used for widescale regional emergencies for the 30 towns that make up CRCOG, such as Tropical Storm Irene or last year's October snowstorm.
The regional emergency operations center cost approximately $700,000, while the mobile command post cost $350,000, and the "Bearcat" an additional $250,000.
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"Doing this as a region we are able to have these assets," said Manchester Police Chief Marc Montminy. "The town of Manchester would never be able to afford this alone."
The mobile command center is equipped with an infrared telescopic camera tower, a generator, a private room in the rear to handle sensitive hostage negotiations or fire dispatches, and numerous computers, monitors, phone lines and other mobile communications equipment that can be deployed in the event of a weather or public safety emergency.
The "Bearcat" comes reinforced with bulletproof walls and windows that are able to withstand most types of gun fire, as well as a turret on the roof and slots in the doors of the vehicle that let officers return fire while covered. The "Bearcat" is large enough to transport a full SWAT team continent, according to Montminy.
While explaining the vehicle's purpose during a press conference Thursday afternoon, Montminy cited last year in Manchester where a suspect barricaded himself inside a house and fired on officers for more than an hour as an example when and where the "Bearcat" would be used.
"We won't need it much, but when we need it, we'll need it."