Harder to hide: Grand County law enforcement applies for Homeland Security money
April 7, 2009
Law enforcement officers throughout Grand County may soon be able to instantly share information among agencies and access crime databases from their patrol cars.
Police departments in Kremmling, Granby and Fraser-Winter Park, as well as the Grand County Sheriff’s Department, are collaborating on a grant application to purchase report-generation software and mobile laptops for patrol cars.
By the May 1 deadline, they plan to apply for the grant from a $16.4 million pool of Homeland Security money made available through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, also known as the stimulus plan.
“What it will provide each officer is essentially a mobile office,” Kremmling Police Chief Scott Spade told the Kremmling Town Board on Monday night. It would be possible to “run license plates at 3 o’clock in the morning,” he said.
Rather than having to place such requests verbally through Grand County Dispatch, an officer in the field would be able to punch a license plate into his computer and get an instant response from the statewide database.
Officers would also be able to generate citations on the spot, Spade said
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“Dispatch can actually send a message or send data directly to the computer in the car,” said Grand County Sheriff Rod Johnson.
Both supervisors also noted that the mobile computers would provide detailed patrol logs.
Johnson said that as towns around the county formed their own police departments, they also purchased their own report-generation software, which means the departments cannot share reports quickly or remotely.
“You have some separation of sharing information,” he said. “We’re trying to bring that back. Actually, we’re not trying to just bring it back; we’re trying to make it better.”
“Right now our individual systems don’t communicate with each other, which is problematic,” said Bill Housley, Granby Police chief. “If we’re all connected, we’ll get the histories (of suspects) from Fraser-Winter Park, Kremmling and the SO (Sheriff’s Office).”
“It’s just another way of providing more efficient service to the community,” he said, adding that it will also provide a common format when sharing reports with the district attorney’s office and other agencies.
In addition, Johnson said an effort has started to develop a statewide report-sharing database, which will require software to translate reports from each department.
“If we could standardize (software) here, that would have to be done only once in the county,” he said.
Spade and Johnson both said no local match is required for the grant, which would fund all costs for the software, hardware and operations for two years.
After that, however, there would be a monthly cost for the wireless air cards that connect the patrol computers with the network. That would cost $45 per month per unit right now, which “could be less or could be more” in two years, Spade said.
Johnson said his department would need 12 to 15 units, “if we outfitted everyone.”
Housley said Granby would need five mobile laptops to be fully outfitted.
Fraser-Winter Park Police Chief Glen Trainor, who is writing the grant application, which would be funded through Grand County after a memorandum of understanding is worked out, is not in town this week.
The grant funding cycle will begin with the new federal fiscal year in October, Johnson said. He also said the granting agencies give preference to applications that demonstrate collaboration among agencies.
“When it comes to multi-agency collaboration, we (departments in Grand County) have a lot of need,” he said.
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