Tahlequah Daily Press

Z_CNHI News Service

February 22, 2014

Time for an upgrade: New EPD Crime Scene Investigation van put in service

ENID, Okla. — Enid Police Department’s new Crime Scene Investigation van has hit the streets, replacing a more than 20-year-old pickup that was seized as part of a narcotics investigation.

Chief Brian O’Rourke said the 2014 Dodge Promaster was purchased from Jackson’s of Enid using Public Safety Sales Tax money.

“We bought local,” the chief said. “Anytime we need a vehicle or equipment, we try to buy local.”

The full-sized van with custom shelving, a power inverter and crime scene lights replaces a 1992 Chevrolet pickup fitted with a camper shell and 227,000 miles on the odometer.

“It definitely needed an upgrade and we looked at different options and different vehicles from pickup and trucks,” O’Rourke said. “We decided that looking at the Dodge Promaster that it was the best fit and we worked with Jacksons to make it happen.”

Capt. Tom Nichols said the Chevrolet pickup had been “recycled” from a meth lab cleanup unit to the crime scene vehicle.

“It was certainly time for an upgrade, and crime scene response has a lot of equipment,” Nichols said. “We need to be able to bring all the right tools for the incident to do the best job.”

Crime Scene Technician Tim Hess, who uses the new vehicle, said getting the van has at least quadrupled the amount of space he had in the old truck.

He said the new van can fit anything he might need at an incident or crime scene.

“Before, we really couldn’t have too much because everything was put in the back of the pickup,” Hess said.

Members of Jacksons of Enid were at the Enid Police Department Friday to see the new van after being fitted for police use. The van has EPD logos, as well as red and blue flashing lights.

Jacksons of Enid President Bruce Jackson said 2014 is the first year Dodge has produced a full-sized van such as the Promaster.

“We’re really very excited for all the applications that are possible,” he said.

Jackson said Sales Manager Gregg Durkee worked with the state of Oklahoma to allow their dealership to make a bid on the van for the Enid Police Department.

Durkee said the Promaster features a V6 Pentastar 3.5 liter engine, front-wheel drive and best-in-class power and fuel efficiency.

Hess, who began with the department in June of 2003 as an evidence technician, said the options offered by the Promaster greatly outweigh the other vehicles that have been used as crime scene vehicles.

Hess said the search for a new crime scene vehicle began about a year ago, with the department taking delivery of the Promaster in late October/early November last year.

“It came in plain white,” he said. “From there, we just started shopping around for the equipment.”

The van’s bedliner was done by a company in Enid, the power inverter was installed by an Enid company, as was the radio and lights. The custom-fit shelves were done by a company in Waukomis.

Hess said the shelves were designed to fit the department’s equipment.

“We were able to customize what we want to put in it,” he said. “We’ve got a stand-up closet on the end where we cans tore larger tools, our privacy screens and the bigger tools we use at scenes, a locked tool chest on the bottom of the shelving.

“Everything is in its own separate storage bin and now we have the floor space where we can haul evidence. The new van makes it a lot nicer, a lot easier, whenever you’re going out to a crime scene. Before you only had so much space and everything was either put in the back seat or in the back under the camper shell.”

As the department’s crime scene technician, Hess is responsible for collecting evidence, taking photographs, fingerprinting, DNA collection, collection of impression evidence, such as tire tracks or footprints, as well as collecting surveillance videos.

“That crime scene vehicle we put together is probably one of the best in the state,” O’Rourke said.

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