If you’ve ever gone to a Carnival parade, you’ve probably found yourself impatiently looking at your watch while staring down the road, wondering how much longer it will be until the parade arrives. St. Bernardians who plan to attend the Knights of Nemesis’ 12th annual parade Feb. 18 in Chalmette can rest easy.
For the fourth consecutive year, Sheriff James Pohlmann said the department’s Mobile Emergency Operations Center will lead the parade, posting regular location updates on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook and Twitter pages along the way.
Manned each year by Major Angela Huff, Captain Charles Borchers and Captain Bret Bowen, the department’s mobile command unit essentially controls the running of the parade by coordinating closures of main cross streets as the parade approaches and making adjustments in the speed of the procession.
Captain Bowen, who drives the unit, said throughout the duration of the parade they communicate with deputies along the route who keep them informed of any circumstances that may affect the parade’s flow, including tractor breakdowns or any other mishaps. While Captain Bowen is driving, Major Huff and Captain Borchers take care of the social media updates, including posting information about delays and photos from along the route.
According to Captain Bowen, the 40-foot LDV specialty vehicle which sits on a freightliner chassis, includes a front driving compartment, followed by a command area, galley, restroom and communications area in the rear. Bowen said the state-of-the-art vehicle also is equipped with several smart TVs, a marine radio, and a rear 360-degree view camera that can be raised 35 feet in the air.
Sheriff Pohlmann acquired the $375,000 unit for the department in 2013 through a federal grant. In addition to the Nemesis parade, the command center also is used during the Irish, Italian, Islenos parade, at local festivals and during SWAT rolls and roundups.
Captain Bowen said utilizing the unit and technology helps provide relief for the Sheriff’s Office radio room during parades.
The main reason we started this was if you wanted to know where the parade was before you would call the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “So now, thanks to the use of social media, we can post information on our Facebook and Twitter accounts to help alleviate the number of calls we get that tie up our lines and prevent more important calls from coming through.”
This year’s Nemesis parade, featuring more than 20 floats, 30 marching units and 300 riders, begins at 1 p.m. and will follow the traditional route, beginning and ending at the Frederick J. Sigur Civic Center, 8245 W. Judge Perez Drive, with U-turns at the intersections near Dr. Meraux Boulevard and Campagna Drive.