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Body cams and instant scans: Grayson police get tech upgrade

Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times

 Many first responders were training on the new E911 Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system update last week, but Grayson police couldn’t join in. During the regular meeting of Grayson City Council last Tuesday police chief Travis Steele informed council that, while the much anticipated E911 update brings with it a number of perks that can help improve response time and guide police to their location, the department didn’t have the necessary hardware to participate in the training or to fully utilize the system. To make best use of the new system, he explained, the department needed new tablets and docking stations for the tablets in their vehicles. 

Steele went on to explain to council that he had been in communication with Joanne and Roger Dunfee, with Grayson Emergency Management, about possible grant opportunities to fund the purchase of those tablets. However, as Joanne Dunfee explained, most of the grant opportunities had “already passed for this year.” 

That didn’t mean there was no way to fund the purchase of the system though. 

What Roger Dunfee suggested, instead of a grant, was the use of CARES reimbursement money to fund the purchase. Dunfee explained that he had sent in paperwork for the reimbursement of other department expenses. He said the city would be reimbursed around $87,000 for police related expenses like salary costs. Since that money was coming back to the city for police costs, he said, it seemed appropriate that some of those funds be used to fund current police needs. 

Steele asked council to approve the purchase of a system that would meet all of their needs, at a cost of $43,128. That cost included a tablet for each officer and a docking station for each police vehicle. The system requested, which Steele said runs as high as $112,000 from other vendors, not only allows the department to make use of the new E911 CAD system, but also includes other features that can speed up response time and keep officers safe. 

Among the amenities of the system is a feature that immediately calls up all relevant info when an officer scans a driver’s license. This would include any outstanding warrants in addition to information about suspended driving privileges or other relevant information. Rather than calling in, reading off information, and waiting for someone else to do the search, officers could be alerted immediately. If the person pulled over had outstanding warrants, for instance, officers would receive an immediate, private alert that would allow them to then act appropriately. For those pulled over for routine traffic violations, he said, it would make the stop quicker and more convenient, allowing motorists to proceed with their business in a more timely fashion. 

Council approved the request to purchase the tablet system and docking stations. 

Steele also provided council with a list of all cell phone numbers associated with the department’s new cell phone plan. The department was able to purchase a cell phone for each officer at a cost of $1 per phone with the plan, which only costs the department $40 per phone each month. In addition to guaranteeing that the officers are always able to be contacted if needed, Steele explained, the phones also double as body cameras, allowing officers to record their interactions. 

In other action Roger Dunfee provided an update on the sidewalk project, noting that it was finally ready to progress to the next phase. 

Alcoholic beverage control officer Willis Johnson also gave a report on his department, noting that the new owner of the Raider Mart/Racers Marts in Grayson – now dubbed Quality Marts – had received their transitional license for one location. The former Raider Mart location would receive their license within “probably two weeks,” Johnson said. Once that license was approved the city would be back at 21 licensed alcohol sales locations within city limits. 

Council also approved a cost of living pay adjustment, which replaces what the city used to call a Christmas bonus for city employees. 

Mayor George Steele thanked retiring council members Pam Nash and Terry Stamper for their service to the city as well. Both chose not to run again last election cycle, making the December meeting their last regular meeting before new councilmembers are sworn in this January. Nash and Stamper will be replaced by Bradley Cotten and write-in candidate Troy Combs. 

Contact the writer at editor@cartercountytimes.com

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