Milwaukee Police ask for funding to purchase mobile command post ahead of RNC

MPD currently uses a mobile command post that they say is technologically old and outdated and would cost more to repair than to replace.
MPD Incident Command Post.png
Posted at 9:19 AM, Jan 04, 2024

MILWAUKEE — Less than six months before the start of the Republican National Convention, the Milwaukee Police Department is asking for an upgrade: a new mobile command post.

“For the RNC, this is a necessity to be able to have a unit that is actually on scene to orchestrate all of the moving pieces of an operation as it is occurring,” said Heather Hough, Chief of Staff, Milwaukee Police Department.

Housed in an RV, it's a central meeting place for police at a major scene, where they can review video, access records, and give orders in real time.

MPD currently uses a mobile command post that they say is technologically old and outdated and would cost more to repair than to replace.

“Sometimes the technology doesn't work. We rely on cell phone hotspots to get connected to view body-worn cam or video footage. It lags because of these technology issues,” said Hough.

The price of buying a new one? $1.3 million.

The Public Safety and Health Committee has to approve the purchase before Common Council takes a vote.

On Wednesday, all but one member of that committee gave the green light.

Bay View Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic says she still has questions about the large investment.

“This is a couple of days. I know that there's heavy security involved, but I was wondering what happens to the one that we have. Can we repurpose it for some positive good? Can we sell it? Are there other things that have been explored? What will happen to this in the future?” said Ald. Dimitrijevic.

MPD says it hopes to use a federal grant to pay for the unit, but it's not a guarantee.

Dimitrijevic says that uncertainty along with the fact that the request wasn't included in the recent city budget gives her pause.

“This one was over $1 million. And I'm concerned if we're actually going to receive the grant funding back. What happens if we don’t?” said Ald. Dimitrijevic.

In a statement about the resolution, the Mayor's Office said MPD's request isn't new.

“The police department has talked about the need for a new mobile command post since the RNC selected Milwaukee as the site for its Presidential nominating convention in the summer of 2022. And, rather than using new sales tax money, the discussions have centered around using federal security grant money to pay for the command post. That may, or may not, come to pass. But everyone involved has prioritized public safety needs and cost-consciousness throughout the discussions.”

Common Council will have the final say on this purchase at a meeting later this month.