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Although not quite a reality just yet, thanks to the Salem Police Foundation, citizens can help build the command center, piece by piece, by sponsoring a part of this emergency response vehicle.

The Salem Police Foundation (SPF)  knows when officers respond to a natural or man-made disaster, it is essential that they are prepared. As Salem’s first responders, our police department needs to be able to communicate, strategize and resolve conflicts.

Salem police need to be able to plan efficiently and effectively, away from distractions and dangerous elements. Acquiring a mobile command center will be able to provide this and more, as our officers work to take care of people in serious situations.

The vehicle interior contains everything from a comprehensive control room to a satellite communications system. Parts range from $5-$25,000. Every purchase made goes toward the total cost of the vehicle, and each item is vital. Donors can visit the SPF website (salempolicefoundation.org) and “purchase” one of the nearly 100 different parts.

Other local jurisdictions have mobile command centers. Those communities have the benefit of such a tool when dire incidents arise, such as a hostage situation or an active shooter scenario, or should a natural disaster threaten their community’s safety response.

For Lt. Michael Bennett, the need for this vehicle hits home. In 2015, Bennett was called to respond to an active shooting situation at Wal-Mart in southeast Salem which ultimately lasted nearly 10 hours. The lieutenant and other officers quickly responded in their current command vehicle: an SUV with a pop-up tent attached.

Said Bennett, “Our job, during these types of critical incidents are inherently difficult, complex, and dangerous just due to the nature of these calls. The logistics of organizing a command post, which is functional and time responsive to the needs of everyone involved in the incident is so important. To be able to have a single place that guarantees a safe location to coordinate police, city officials, district attorneys, and other city departments to all meet and work collaboratively toward a successful outcome is critical. For our Foundation and the community to be so incredibly supportive in this endeavor speaks volumes to our community’s solidarity.”

Deputy Chief Steve Bellshaw shared, “Critical incidents can and do happen. We are fortunate to have the Salem Police Foundation take the lead in bringing the need forward and rallying the community’s involvement.”

Mary Louise VanNatta, SPF Executive Director said, “Grants and individual donors have taken us over half way to acquiring the $600,000 needed for this vehicle. While the donation “sale price” of the individual parts is not always reflective of the actual cost of that part, our goal is to give more options to the public to participate in this “ownership” undertaking. We anticipate this campaign will help us meet our fundraising goal.” She added, “Plus, we think it will be fun for people to purchase a piece for a child or friend, so they can feel they truly are part of the project.”

So, the next time you hear sirens and receive an emergency alert on your mobile phone, or perhaps see Salem’s new mobile command center rush past, you’ll proudly be reminded that your sponsorship helped build this life-saving vehicle.


The Salem Police Foundation raises funds to support the police department and, through donors, has provided training equipment and facilities for K9 officers, a state-of-the-art fingerprint fume chamber, trauma kits, domestic violence cameras, and a crime scene body shield among other things. Currently, the SPF is raising funds for a mobile command center. www.SalemPoliceFoundation.org.

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