South County Beat: Tricked-out A.G. cop car wins award

Arroyo Grande Police won an award last month from a well-known law enforcement training organization for a specialty police vehicle that was originally an old ambulance used in the Cambria Healthcare District.

The unique emergency vehicle was added to the police fleet to provide public safety communications and support for officers during critical incidents, officials said.

The department began a creative search in late 2007 for a cost-effective vehicle that could preform a variety of public safety functions.

The Cambria Healthcare District later stepped forward with a partial donation of a diesel-powered 1995 Ford E-350, which Arroyo Grande police nicknamed MERV or Mobile Emergency Response Vehicle.

Private companies from around the country donated equipment; volunteers and Arroyo Grande police helped transform the vehicle into a fully-functional mobile emergency unit.

The ambulance body was raised and fitted with oversized off-road tires. The body was painted black and white to match the fleet, and the original diesel engine was modified to increase its horsepower. Other features include a side roll-out awning and a roof that’s now capable of supporting the weight of several officers.

The van has 20 million candle-power lights that were attached to the front of the van, giving officers the ability to turn night into virtual daylight, according to the department.

The interior of the vehicle underwent a major transformation. Cabinets that once stored medical supplies and equipment were modified to accommodate police equipment used during special operations.

— Sona Patel

Pismo Beach police annual holiday meal

The annual Pismo Beach Police Officers Association Thanksgiving Dinner is scheduled for Wednesday, Nov. 25, from 1 to 7 p.m. at the Pismo Beach Vets Hall at 780 Bello St.

Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, homemade gravy, vegetables, cranberry sauce, rolls, drinks and dessert will be provided.

Meal delivery requests can be made by calling 704-0017 or 704-0030 between 12 and 6 p.m. on Nov. 25.

Donations can be made to Pismo Beach POA, 1000 Bello St., Pismo Beach, CA, 93449.

Those interested in volunteering may call Sherry Lange at 773-7018.

— Sona Patel