The Federal Way Police Department (FWPD) got the go-ahead to apply for a federal program that allows local law enforcement agencies to receive surplus federal vehicles at little or no cost.
The Parks, Recreation, Human Services and Public Safety Commission gave its blessing at a July 9 meeting.
Police Chief Brian Wilson described the Law Enforcement Support Office 1033 program and the department's need.
"We have articulated the need for a mobile command post, and we have not had one in our history as an agency," Wilson said, describing the vehicle as "a place that can be mobile and then go and operate as a command post."
Wilson referenced a vehicle FWPD often borrows from the Department of Homeland Security. The vehicle was most recently used by FWPD during the Red, White and Blues Festival on July 4 at Celebration Park.
"They're oftentimes vehicles of a similar size, that oftentimes become available through the federal government through a surplus," Wilson said. "If we were to receive that, we could receive it at little or no cost, and then it would be our responsibility to update it or retrofit."
FWPD hopes the retrofit costs would be covered by grant money, Wilson said. There's also some pending asset forfeiture funds that could become available to the city and the department, although Wilson said he's not banking on that money at this time.
The vehicles, at a base level, cost approximately $500,000. When fully equipped like the one FWPD often borrows from Homeland Security, they can run up over $1 million. The vehicles would be useful in a situation like the shooting spree that occurred in April at the Pinewood Village Apartments.
"What happened at the Pinewood Apartments, we were operating out of the back of a Ford Fusion," Wilson said. "If we ever get in that situation again, we have to have people closer. We were all in the same parking lot, but communication was not as good as it could have been."
"I do think we can really have something that's useful and do it for a fraction of the cost," Wilson added.