The Greensboro Police Department is reaching out to communities in a big way through a giant Thomas bus that serves as the Mobile Command Center. The Mobile Command Center is typically used as a smaller, portable headquarters at crime scenes or after a disaster. “We recently used this one for a homicide,” said Officer Smith, who also doubles as one of the Mobile Command Center bus drivers.
On Monday afternoon, the Mobile Command Center was out for a more amiable purpose. Parked adjacent to East Market Street and directly across from A&T University, the large bus was hard to miss. Officer Douglas Chambers, who is spearheading the program, hopes that the Mobile Command Center will serve as a tool to introduce officers to the community and encourage communication with citizens. “I think it’s important to build relationships,” said Chambers, “People will come up to us and say, ‘Hey, I saw some sketchy looking people in my neighborhood last week,’ and ask us to drive through.”
Two officers circled the Mobile Command Center on Segways while other officers stopped in and out. The mood was light as officers chatted and joked around with each other. Aboard the bus it was little cramped with a narrow aisle between two rows of phones and laptops. The idea is that curious citizens can take a peak inside, but, “it’s not super exciting in there,” Officer Chambers admitted.
No citizens were around despite the best efforts of the officers to present a friendly and approachable demeanor. “We get only about two people per visit,” said Officer Chambers, “This hasn’t been working amazingly well. If we were grilling hotdogs, we’d be doing good.”
Each police district will do two outreach operations and Officer Chambers will bring The Mobile Command Center back to the East Market Street area on May 5th at the intersection of Booker and Cunningham.