Credit union donates mobile command unit to Kauai Police Department

Communities around Kauai will soon be seeing a mobile command unit run by the Kauai Police Department as its newest strategy to deter crime in neighborhoods.

The Kauai Government Employees Federal Credit Union donated a mobile home to the department Wednesday.

The 33-footer will be equipped with phone and fax lines, maps, cell phones, radios and computers. It can be used as a mobile command center and communications center to be used in the event of an emergency or major incident.

Leon Gonsalves, president of the board of directors of the KGEFCU and an investigator for the Kauai County Prosecutor’s Office, said he decided the best use for the vehicle since the credit union shut down its mobile banking center early last year would be to donate it to the police department. They purchased the vehicle about 11 years ago for about $70,000, Gonsalves said.

Ed Medeiros, KGEFCU chief executive officer, made the presentation Wednesday about 2 p.m. at police headquarters, Ka Hale Makai O Kauai. A blessing was given by department chaplain Yukiko Motoyoshi. Sgt. Ezra Kanoho made it official by receiving the vehicle’s keys from Medeiros.

“What better way to give back to the community than to turn this over to the men and women who protect our community,” Medeiros said.

“We see using it as a mobile command unit and substation, if a neighborhood has some crime, we could place it there for some police presence,” said Police Chief George Freitas.

Administrative and Technical Bureau Lt. Miles Tanabe will be working with sign-makers to create some signature KPD designs. Mike Layosa, Sr., KPD fleet maintenance coordinator, was also on hand to inspect the mechanicals in and out. Once the KPD’s computer assisted dispatch and records management system is online, officers will be able to access it from computers inside the mobile communications center, Finance Department Deputy Director Erik Knutzen said.

A fully-equipped vehicle about the same size cost the Honolulu Police Department at least $400,000, Freitas said. To gear up this vehicle will cost about half that, he estimated. However, it’s hard to tell what equipment they’ll need to purchase and what interior renovations would need to be made, he said. The mobile unit has a built-in ATM as well as bench-seating tables and a bathroom.

Lt. Miles Tanabe in a written statement said the department would have eventually examined the possibilities of purchasing such a vehicle had this donation not been made. The vehicle was valued at about $30-40,000.

Freitas said the unit’s first official use will probably be July 19 at the last flag football game of the season for the Kauai Police Activities League. He said the department will likely use it as a command center for an upcoming Weapons of Mass Destruction training and response exercise to be held in July at Lihue Airport.

Staff Writer Kendyce Manguchei can be reached at mailto:kmanguchei@pulitzer.net or 245-3681 (ext. 252).

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