The Boone County Quorum Court will be asked Tuesday night to approve an appropriation for funds to match grant money that will be used to equip sheriff’s department patrol cars with computers.
At last week’s Law Enforcement Committee meeting, Sheriff Tim Roberson told justices of the peace that many law enforcement agencies in the area have computers in patrol units.
Those computers allow officers to write reports in their vehicles and run license plate numbers through the Arkansas Crime Information Center. Writing reports is now done at the sheriff’s office and they have to radio into dispatchers to run tags.
Roberson said the department had located a grant that would cover 90% of the $106,000 it would require to outfit 20 patrol units with those computers.
The county would have to contribute more than $10,600 to match the grant amount.
“It seems like a good deal to me and if y’all could help me find the 10%, I would appreciate it,” Roberson told JPs.
The sheriff said that when deputies have to go back to the office to write reports it takes them off the roads. He would rather see them parked on the side of the road somewhere visible writing those reports — a patrol unit in the area is often a deterrent to crime.
He was asked if the in-car computers would work in conjunction with the current system at the sheriff’s office.
He said he had been told that the two would probably not communicate. The system at the office is about 14 years old and needs regular maintenance and updates to stay current. He would like to use a system called Relativity Public Safety, but that is something he would be putting forward at a later time.
Roberson said he had been told that the grant had already been approved. He was told to get quotes together for equipment, although he shouldn’t buy anything until the match is approved.
When asked about when he would need the money, he said “soon.”
Committee members agreed to take an appropriation ordinance before the full quorum court when it meets next Tuesday night. The funds would come from the Jail Sales Tax Fund.
There was a question whether that would be a proper use for jail money. Although the fund does refer to jail sales tax, the sales tax voters approved was for law enforcement purposes and the purchase would be legal.