WARREN - At first glance, the 2014 Ford Explorer delivered to the city police department on Thursday might look like any other black SUV rolling down the highway.
But, along with its police lights and sirens, this vehicle is equipped with tools designed to help Warren police Detective Michael Stabile and other investigators more effectively process a crime scene.
Stabile, who is also a member of the Trumbull County Homicide Investigation and Prosecution Unit, noted that the vehicle that's been assigned to him will allow him to transport more of the equipment he needs to a crime scene, Stabile said. The Chevy Impala he's been using doesn't have enough space for all of the investigative tools.
Detective Mike Stabile of the Warren Police Department and Trumbull County Homicide Task Force shows off the secure storage unit in the back of the department’s new CSI-tailored SUV. The 2014 Ford Explorer arrived last week and will be used to process crime scenes throughout Trumbull County.
"It really will be a time-saver because with the other vehicle, I couldn't have everything with me, and there are times I've had to leave to go get something, some equipment we needed, and come back. This will help avoid that," Stabile said.
He'll also have more space to securely transport evidence collected at the scene.
The $29,000 SUV came with a $5,000 TruckVault - a secure storage unit that fits snugly into the back of the vehicle for easy access. The vault, or cabinet, has several locking drawers that can be used to store evidence or supplies such as blood kits, envelopes and Luminol used for detecting blood.
The Trumbull County Prosecutor's Office paid for the vault. The cost of the vehicle was covered by Warren's towing fees.
The vehicle can also be used as a central command station at any major crime scene, not only homicide investigations. Because Stabile is with the county homicide task force, he can also use the vehicle to transport crime scene tools beyond Warren to other areas of the county.
For example, in the past, he has been called to crime scenes in communities such as Liberty and Southington.
"It really is an asset to have a vehicle like this. It will definitely help the investigative process along," Warren police Chief Eric Merkel said.
"The main thing is that I will have everything I need right here in the vehicle with me," Stabile said. "The equipment will be safer now and more secure. It's definitely a better option."