Bristol County Sheriff Paul Heroux announced in a recent appearance on WBSM's SouthCoast Tonight that he is donating the BCSO's mobile command center to the New Bedford Police Department.

The mobile command center was purchased by then-Sheriff Tom Hodgson with funding secured by federal grants in 2001. Though the BCSO had applied for it two years prior, the vehicle was secured shortly after the September 11 attacks.

It was pitched as both an anti-terrorism and a disaster response vehicle that would coordinate with local law enforcement agencies during regional emergencies.

The inside of the command center is equipped with surveillance cameras, computer hook-ups, TV monitors, radios, and a Global Positioning Satellite.

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Heroux, who was sworn in as Sheriff in early January, said on SouthCoast Tonight that the BCSO staff told him the vehicle hasn't been used in quite some time.

According to Heroux, the last time the command center was used was when its exterior canopy provided shade for a cookout. He said he thinks that the NBPD will make much better use of it.

"We haven't done much with it that's really constructive in the way of the actual operations of the jail in a long time. That's was been told to me," Heroux said.

Heroux said that when he met with all of the department heads in his first few days as sheriff, the head of maintenance told him the command center is taking up space that could be used for them to acquire equipment such as a vehicle lift and a wheel alignment machine.

According to Heroux, this would allow the BSCO to bring their vehicle maintenance operations in-house, which would be more cost efficient.

"So between having a need for space for maintenance that will help save money, and I don't really have a vision for (the mobile command center) and how I'm going to do things, it just made sense to say okay, let's unload this," Heroux said.

New Bedford Police Chief Paul Oliveira told WBSM that he is excited and grateful to receive the mobile command center from the Sheriff's Office.

"As leaders of our respective organizations, it is incumbent upon us to support one another and work in partnership," Oliveira said. "Sheriff Heroux has clearly shown his willingness to coordinate with surrounding law enforcement agencies for the collective good."

Oliveira added that the NBPD will get a great deal of use from the mobile command center during the many events the city holds throughout the year, and that law enforcement agencies throughout the region will be able to use it.

"This command center will be useful to our city, which hosts many events throughout the year that attract mass gatherings such as the Madeira Feast and Half Marathon," Oliveira said. "Having a staged area with a dedicated command center as a base of operations is critical."

"I would like to also add that I intend to pay this generosity forward by making the command center available to surrounding communities that may also need it for their own incidents and events," he said. "My thanks to Sheriff Heroux and the Bristol County Sheriff's Office."

Listen to Sheriff Paul Heroux's interview on SouthCoast Tonight:

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