An example of a police mobile command center that the city of Kent has requested federal funds to purchase. COURTESY PHOTO, Frontline Communications

An example of a police mobile command center that the city of Kent has requested federal funds to purchase. COURTESY PHOTO, Frontline Communications

Kent Police seek $2.25 million mobile command vehicle for major incidents

City applies for federal grant to pay for vehicle to respond to active shooter, mass casualty events

The city of Kent has applied for a $2.25 million federal grant to pay for a Kent Police mobile command vehicle, in part because “there is a realistic probability of an active shooter/mass-casualty event occurring within our jurisdiction.”

That’s one of the reasons Kent Police want to purchase the department’s first mobile command vehicle, according to grant application documents submitted by the city to U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Washington.

“It’s needed to serve as a hub to coordinate emergency responses, manage large-scale events and ensure the security of the community,” according to the documents.

“With accesso ShoWare Center, Blue Origin, an Amazon warehouse and host of other aerospace and manufacturing firms in the city, there is a realistic probability of an active shooter/mass-casualty event occurring within our jurisdiction.

“It is not a question of if but of when a major event requiring enhanced command and control capabilities will take place.

“The addition of a (mobile command police vehicle) will greatly strengthen our effectiveness in the management of an event and in the mitigation of the event’s impact to our community.”

City leaders and its federal lobbyist will work with Cantwell to try to get funding approved by the Senate and with U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Bellevue, for funding by the House. If approved this year, the funding would be for fiscal year 2025, which is September 2024 through September 2025.

“Submitting projects to the House Appropriations Committee is the first step in the process and does not guarantee they will be funded,” according to an email from Smith’s office about its 15 community project funding requests for the 9th District. “Rep. Smith will continue to advocate for this funding to be passed by Congress and signed into law.”

The vehicle would be 26 feet to 35 feet long with automatic transmission and a generator, according to city documents. The outside of the vehicle will have emergency lighting, outside lighting, awnings, telescoping mast for a pan, tilt, zoom camera to be mounted, and be fully marked as an emergency management command post. The vehicle also would be available to assist the nearby communities of Renton, Tukwila and Auburn.

“It will have the ability during an incident to have six to eight monitors running from cameras to give command post a better idea of what is happening,” Kent Police Assistant Chief Eric Hemmen said to the Kent Council during a March presentation for approval to apply for the grant.

Camera footage would come from drones and officers body-worn cameras.

“If there’s a big incident now, the commander shows up in a Ford Explorer and it’s all done out of the back of the car,” Hemmen said.

The large vehicle would allow for a command post for the chief, incident coordinator and other parties to discuss the incident and determine next steps, according to city documents.

If there’s an active shooter at a school or for a SWAT operation, the mobile command vehicle would be an asset, Hemmen said.

“We could have used it when the state trooper was shot,” Hemmen said about the Feb. 16 incident that injured a Washington State Patrol trooper. “About 100 officers were here (looking for the shooter). If we had a command post, they could check in, and we’d have whiteboards and everything else.”

Other uses for the mobile command vehicle would include training events for an active shooter or mass casualty event and staging for police at large community events, such as the annual Kent Cornucopia Days festival downtown each July.

The vehicle also would be used in response to any natural disasters, such as a flood or earthquake, Hemmen said.

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