Amarillo Police Department set to receive new Emergency Communications Vehicle

Published: Sep. 13, 2023 at 10:17 PM CDT|Updated: Sep. 13, 2023 at 10:23 PM CDT
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) -Amarillo City Council recently approved the purchase of a new emergency communications vehicle for the Amarillo Police Department.

This has been in the works for over a decade. According to members of the crisis intervention team, it is time to replace aging equipment.

Right now, they are sharing an 80s Winnebago RV with SWAT. Ideally, each unit would have its own space to work out of.

“We’ve got swat stuff and we’ve got negotiator stuff in the same vehicle, and we have more options, better equipment these days. So kind of the need is, let’s separate those two that way swat has room for all their robots and cool gadgets that they can resolve these situations without a higher level of force and put our stuff in a small van to where we can quietly operate away from the scene; stay focused on whoever needs to be talked to, talking,” says Chase Cox, Patrolman with a specialty in Crisis Intervention at Amarillo Police Department.

Communication is crucial. It can be the difference between life and death.

“Just by having one of our negotiators or that they start talking to that person and just all of a sudden emotions come down and the stress comes down and yeah, it takes a long time. But if we can get that person or the people out of there without anybody getting hurt, I mean that’s a win for everybody,” says Carla Burr, Public Information Officer for Amarillo Police.

The difference between the one they are using now and the one they will be receiving will make a huge difference in their methods.

“We’ll be able to just have our team on there or just the people that need to be in there and be able to get a lot more accomplished. Without all the distractions that happen when you have a shared space,” says Burr.

Distractions minimized, it will also enable speed and convenience.

“We’re able to move quicker than the Winnebago and we can respond to situations that just need a negotiator not necessarily a higher level of force,” says Cox.

Officer Cox says while what they do is oftentimes critical, the equipment they need is pretty simple.

“Mainly what we use is we have this box it’s a Bluetooth phone to where we’ve got the old headphones on like you see in the movies, and that’s majority of the equipment we use. We also have specialty equipment such as throw phones, say somebody breaks into a building, they don’t have a phone, we can introduce one in there. So we can get that communication going,” explains Cox.

The new emergency communication vehicle is being funded by the American Rescue Plan Act funds and says they don’t expect to receive the new van until next year.