News: Modifications improve safety for Barstow community
Story by Sgt. Shannon Yount
BARSTOW, Calif. - When seconds count and the stakes are high, police officers with Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, depend on horsepower and technology to get the job done.
Emergency response vehicles are one of the tools police officers use with duties such as patrolling areas, responding to incidents and transporting criminal suspects.
Over the years, police departments exchange and modify emergency vehicles to ensure safety and mission accomplishment.
The police department on MCLB has recently modified the vehicles in their inventory to comply with Marine Corps standards and meet federal and state regulations, said Pedro Ruiz, services officer with Security and Emergency services, MCLB Barstow Military Police Department.
According to Marine Corps Order 5580.2B section 5500, depending on the mission, emergency response vehicles should be outfitted with exterior emergency lights, logos visible to the public, a mobile radio transceiver, a siren and public address system, first aid supplies, safety vests and equipment deemed necessary by the military police of the installation.
The Marine Corps sets these guidelines for every law enforcement department to follow, but left it up to the installation to make modifications on the emergency vehicles, explained Ruiz. Each installation has different vehicles used for different purposes. The police department on base has vehicles used for patrolling, transporting and first response, Ruiz added.
“When the police department receives vehicles from Southwest Region Fleet Transportation, they are the basic models. The first thing we do is identify the vehicle and what modifications (need to be made). Then we start outsourcing to purchase equipment and have professionals install the equipment,” he said. “We went the extra mile and installed the vehicles with the best equipment possible.”
Currently the installation has 11 emergency response vehicles and all of them meet the requirements of the Marine Corps. Four of the 11 were modified beyond what was required.
The fully loaded vehicles include two sedans, a utility vehicle and a hybrid vehicle.
The sedans, for the most part, are used to enforce traffic laws and respond to emergencies. The sport utility vehicles are also used to enforce traffic laws and respond to emergencies, but they have the capability to drive through the rugged terrain of the desert, explained Ruiz.
The hybrid is the first all-wheel-drive vehicle to be modified as an emergency response vehicle in Barstow, stated Ruiz.
“It’s good on the terrain and great on gas,” he added.
The sedans and the utility vehicle are equipped with an emergency light bar. The light bar consists of a light-emitting diode system with each LED capable of beaming red, blue, white and amber colors. The light bar is programmable for different light sequences to include a 360 degree white flood light, solid red forward-facing takedown light and a programmable rear-facing yellow, directional, warning light.
“The unit operates with both the white flood light and red light. The white flood light can be used during traffic stops to illuminate the subject vehicle,” explained Ruiz. “Blue signifies enforcement authority, red signifies stop, yellow is used to direct and warn traffic of a hazard.”
The vehicles are also equipped with a thermal imaging [infrared] camera. The camera gives officers a tactical advantage by allowing them to track, locate and close with, a subject in complete darkness. In daylight mode, the camera has a zoom feature that can be used to identify suspicious personnel or objects from a distance, he explained.
With the modifications done on the vehicles, police officers have the opportunity to increase awareness and means to serve and protect the MCLB community.
Awareness is increased through the ample lighting from the light bar and the use of the camera, which allows the officer to observe the surrounding area, stated Ruiz.
Sedans are mostly used to transport suspects; they are equipped with a single prisoner transport partition with a roll cage. The partition securely separates the prisoner transport area from the front of the vehicle.
“The better the equipment, the safer everyone is,” explained Ruiz. “Not only is the police officer safe in case the vehicle rolls over but so are the occupants, to include someone in the partition.”
Additional features include, but are not limited to, a dual radar unit that is capable of sensing speed from the front and rear of the vehicle. They are equipped with police suspension, the heavy duty shocks and springs are designed for increased weight and performance. The vehicles are equipped with a police-calibrated power train, which has a feature to allow the onboard computer to communicate with the radar unit to provide accurate and defensible speed readout during mobile traffic enforcement operations.
“The modifications provide everything possible to the police officers,” said Ruiz. “It gives them the tactical advantage to be ready for anything and everything.”