Mesa is about to get $2.7 million in federal grants for fire and police equipment that would be used to respond in a catastrophe.
The items include an armored car, a backup facility for 911 operators and satellite radios. Some of the funds will buy things that can be used for routine use, but most of the items would be used only after natural or man-made disaster.
"Some of it is worst-case scenario stuff, but it's better to have and not need than to not have and need," said Bryan Soller, president of the Mesa Fraternal Order of Police.
The most expensive item is a roughly $572,000 mobile facility to house 911 operators. The city's communication center has a backup generator for a power failure, Soller said, but the backup facility would be in another part of town and could be used if a fire, terrorist attack or other incident took out the building. The center handles calls from eight jurisdictions, so the backup facility will ensure many other communities would still have 911 service.
"People need to know that if they pick up the phone and call 911 that somebody is going to be there to answer," Soller said.
Also, police would get eight satellite radios that allow them to communicate with each other and with other agencies should their regular radio system go down. The city already has 15 of the radios.
The item that would get the most regular use is a new database to track major criminal cases. The city has a database now, Soller said, but the new one will be more powerful and it will allow other agencies to input information that can aid in investigations. The database would be used for cases such as homicides, serial crimes and gang activity.
The grants will pay for a new robot for the bomb squad, whose current robot is aging and needs replacement, Soller said.
"Robots are a huge safety thing to us," he said. "It's a lot better if you send a robot down there and it goes boom rather than send a human."
The city is expected to formally accept the grants Monday, which come from the U.S. Department of Justice and the Arizona Department of Homeland Security. The funds cover the entire cost of the items and do not require any matching money from the city.