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LAPD Rolls Out New Cart to Lead Sparsely-Attended March

By Ed Fuentes
Published: Sunday, September 30, 2007, at 08:25AM
Cart3 Ed Fuentes

Given the frequency with which Downtowners see marches for this cause and for that, the protests themselves tend to blur. The only thing different about Saturday's sparsely-attended protest on Broadway was the Downtown debut of a new LAPD communication tool. It's designed to relay progress of demonstrations, and provide better coordination between units assigned along a protest route––all from what looks like a tricked-out, bright red golf cart with an LAPD seal.

Equipped with lights, fire extinguishers, steel bars, loudspeaker, and a mounted illuminated traffic sign that on Saturday read "Remain on Broadway," the Polaris hybrid all-terrain cart lead marchers to the Federal Building with Captain Jodi Wakefield by its side. Captain Wakefield noted that she believed this was the vehicles second time out, but its first trip to Central Division.

LAPD's New Mobile CommandCart

Directly manning the portable post, known as the "Critical Incident Utility Vehicle", was LAPD officer Jeff Wenniger who stated that messages can be changed in several languages up to 350 feet away via an assigned wireless PDA. Wenniger wore a headset that would allow him to broadcast additional audio messages through the vehicle's speakers.

It was a communication breakdown between LAPD command, Metro Division, and protestors, that's considered to be the major cause of the "incident" in MacArthur Park. The problems shown that day led to changes ordered by LAPD Chief William Bratton, many that have been implemented even before the report is scheduled to be presented in the City Hall Public Works Board Room on Tuesday, October 9.

I'm tempted to call the first "Critical Incident Utility Vehicle, nicknamed the CIUV-1, the BrattonBerry. Either way, maybe it will help keep the demonstration's biggest problem just be the snarl of Downtown traffic.

Cart2 Top: LAPD's Jeff Wenniger on BlackBerry, with Officer Todd Turner at the wheel of the CIUV-1 on Broadway. Middle. The Critical Incident Utility Vehicle in action, leading meachers to City Hall, Left: LAPD's Wenniger with Captain Wakefield, and driver Officer Turner. Photos by E.R. and E.F.

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