Valdosta Daily Times

March 31, 2014

Police showcase equipment for certification check

Terry Richards
The Valdosta Daily Times

VALDOSTA — The Valdosta Police Department turned out much of its special equipment Sunday for a certification inspection.

Every three years, personnel with CALEA — the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies — carry out an inspection of the department for international certification, said VPD Capt. Bobbi McGraw.

The inspectors sent to Valdosta this year are Chief Michael Dickey of the Fairfield, Ohio, police department and Capt. Sharon Massey of the Deer Park, Texas, police, she said.

Sunday, the inspectors reviewed a static display of the department’s gear, “from ordinary patrol cars to extraordinary equipment like the robot,” McGraw said.

On hand in the parking lot at the department’s Toombs Street headquarters were patrol cars, detectives’ cars, the VPD Mobile Command Center, a K9 car, the department’s Tactical Operations Unit vehicle and a wirelessly controlled robot.

Police mostly use the robot for hostage situations and suspicious packages, said Lt. Brian Wood, part of a five-member robot unit. Wood has also had cross-training in hostage negotiations.

The robot — “Miss Daisy” — can be outfitted with a shotgun and a mast for video equipment, he said.

“Miss Daisy’s a Transformer on steroids,” Wood said.

Officer Andre Porter, a K9 specialist, showed the inspectors his car and equipment, with his furry partner inside the vehicle.

Across from the K9 car was the Mobile Command Center, a mobile headquarters used for special events and crisis situations. It can often be seen in a high-profile location at the Valdosta Mall during the Christmas season. McGraw said the command center, obtained through a Georgia Emergency Management Agency grant, is useful in crowd situations and in providing a central facility for interoperability between different agencies.

Later in the day, Dickey and Massey were scheduled to tour the Valdosta-Lowndes Regional Crime Laboratory.