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Police get 'deal' on new van

December 12, 1997

By MARLO BARNHART

Staff Writer

While checking out the new $67,000 Hagerstown City Police communications/command post van, Sgt. Gary Spielman recalled countless times when he wished the department had such a vehicle.

"This van can accommodate two dispatchers, telephone and radio equipment, a room for hostage negotiations, storage for evidence collection and lots more," Spielman said.

Previously, police would hover around one cruiser in all kinds of weather, sharing radios and minimal storage space for evidence collection, Spielman said.

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The van has that all important bathroom feature that is so often lacking at crime scenes, he said.

When the 30-foot Winnebago is not being used on emergency calls, it will be available for educational purposes, public relations and to increase police visibility around Hagerstown, Spielman said.

Financed through a federal block grant, the van came from Beckley's Camping Center in Thurmont, Md.

"This is a commercial unit, not a remodeled camper," said Bob Beckley, owner of the Winnebago dealership. "Lots of police departments have bought these."

Beckley said he was involved in discussions between police and Winnebago representatives to keep the price down.

"It was a super deal - the police department was very frugal," Beckley said.

The City of Hagerstown on Thursday officially accepted the van, which is not yet lettered or equipped. Mayor Robert Bruchey, Police Chief Dale Jones and other city officials were on hand for the unveiling.

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