Oak Brook (IL) Police Department
Keeping themselves available to respond while monitoring large public events can be a challenge for many police departments. The often-free-flowing crowds at fairs, sporting events and public gatherings make it difficult to cover the ground that may be required to effectively respond to calls for service. Squad cars and other traditional police department vehicles don't move easily through crowded streets and across parkland. Even officers on bicycles can have a difficult time responding appropriately to emergencies due to their limited ability to carry the necessary equipment. And pedaling across an open field on a bike can be difficult. Many departments struggle to find a way to patrol open events and look for new ways to get around in these situations.
The Oak Brook (IL) Police Department had, until recently, had a hard time patrolling these events. Located 10 miles west of downtown Chicago, the village is primarily a residential community with an automobile focus, crisscrossed by major state and federal highways, the Tri-State Tollway and the Eisenhower Expressway. So a squad car fleet is vital to protecting citizens.
The problem came in when the department tried to use cars to maintain a presence at village events like the fireworks-and-food festival they host at a large local park every year. While the department was able to use officers on bicycles to serve these events for a time, the growth of the village and proliferation of similar events sent them looking for a vehicle that could do more.
In the summer of 2019 they bought a RANGER CREW XP 900 off-road vehicle to help them more effectively patrol public events. They chose the smaller police lighting package, but also outfitted the vehicle with white lighting on all sides which they have already used during a nighttime search for a missing person. They added a winch and a siren as well. Finally, since the weather can be difficult more than half the year, they also had a heater installed so they could use their RANGER year round.
The department's new vehicle has been well-received by officers and citizens alike. According to Commander Mark King of the Patrol Division, "the vehicle has been a big hit everywhere/every time we have it in the public eye."
Commander King also reports that one of the benefits of having their RANGER outfitted with the law enforcement package is the message it sends to the citizens. He reports the vehicle makes his officers more accessible when they use it at events, but the aggressive look can indicate the seriousness of the mission they are on. In the words of one of the officers who regularly patrolled events on a bike, "this works better than the bike. When we pull up in this, everybody knows we are the police and we mean business."