Fifteen years ago, the Pittsburgh Penguins had Jean-Claude Van Damme to keep them safe. In a few months, Cowboys Stadium and the rest of North Texas will have THOR, a one-stop shop for fighting crime and responding to any emergency that could arise during the Super Bowl.
Built by Intrado, the Tactical Homeland Operational Response vehicle is a hulking black Freightliner-pulled trailer, outfitted with enough flat-screen TV's and antennas to keep pace with the campers out at Lake Tawakoni. It's 80 feet long, 80,000 pounds, and it'll be home to around 25 Dallas Police officers during the big game, who'll field calls and manage police responses across local agencies from an undisclosed location somewhere in the neighborhood.
THOR was parked outside Jack Evans Police Headquarters this morning, where Intrado's Michael Lee was on hand to answer questions. Lee explained that his company's offering the mobile command center to DPD free of charge this time, just to give it a workout, and though it's capable of serving as a clearinghouse for 9-1-1 calls, it won't be doing that this time 'round -- it'd require Next-Generation 9-1-1, which Lee said Dallas doesn't have just yet. "Not only is it the first for us," Lee said, "it's the first vehicle of its type."
Daryl Hartner, one of the technicians who'll be inside the truck on game day, was good enough to give us a quick no-photos-allowed tour of THOR.
Hartner met me at THOR's rear entrance, where he pointed out the galley outfitted with a coffee maker, fax machine and first aid drawers. The sleek gray walls and floors, tight quarters all lit by red overhead lights, and the ever-present hum of the generator in the back, all give you the feeling you're on the bridge of a nuclear sub
Leading the way into the main command room, Hartner pointed out nine workstations, each outfitted with a flat-screen TV, a large computer monitor and a wall panel of power, cable and radio plug-ins. There's a conference room and another handful of workstations upstairs as well.
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THOR is designed for total self-sufficiency, Hartner said, with its own power generator, satellite and radio uplinks. It's meant to be like a multi-tool to give law enforcement agencies everything they'd need in any emergency. "Law enforcement agencies are very good at designing vehicles to suit their needs," Hartner said, but can't always anticipate what they'll need in an emergency.
Outside the truck, Lee suggested THOR would be perfect for coordinating police responses to tornados, hurricanes and the State Fair of Texas.