Thursday, July 22, 2010
Sheriff’s office gets high-tech equipment
By SUE WATSON
Some new technology at the sheriff’s office is making the job of investigators and clerks easier and safer, according to sheriff Kenny Dickerson.
The equipment came as the result of several grants his office has applied for since 2006.
Since 1999, Yolanda Jones, the sheriff’s former receptionist now assigned to other duties, has typed in over 14,000 case files, he said. These files will be scanned and filed on computer discs so retrieval of data will be faster. A new scanner will make it possible to put all the handwritten case reports in digital files.
Other data, such as information on jail cards and jail bookings will also be digitized.
Patrolmen will be using mobile computers to file reports after working an incident – once 30 patrol cars are installed with the equipment.
Dickerson said officers will be able to file reports sooner and still be ready to take calls in the field rather than saving all the paperwork up until the end of a shift or for the next day. The computers will make it possible for officers to check for a record of a suspect while working an incident. Having quick access to the record of a suspect can be life-saving for an investigating officer.
Officers will be able to check mug shots or any criminal information on file from the patrol car. Other records such as outstanding warrants for arrest or search can also be obtained with the mobile computer.
A state-of-the-art finger printing machine that scans a a print, rather than using other methods, is another item of equipment the sheriff’s department purchased with grant monies. The machine scans a print and lets the jailer know immediately if the scan is successful. Dickerson said the fingerprints then can be sent to Jackson or to the FBI on computer for matching with known individuals.
Whereas about half or more of manual fingerprints are not successful prints, the person taking the print will know automatically if the electronic print is successful.
Dickerson offered appreciation to grant writers Cathy Elliott Brittenum and Tina Karastamatim with the sheriff’s office and to Mississippi’s U.S. congressmen and senators for help in obtaining grants.
A grant submitted in 2006 got bogged down in Jackson, but last year and this year the sheriff’s office has been successful in getting several grants, including the technology grant for equipment.
“We are thankful we received what we did get, and what we have will be put to the best use,” Dickerson said. “These grants do not just walk in the door. You apply and you reapply. They are the results of hard work and documentation.”
The technology grant was primarily the work of Sen. Thad Cochran and Sen. Roger Wicker (when he was a U.S. representative), he said. The most recent grant of close to a half-million dollars and another grant to purchase vehicles was due to close cooperation from Rep. Travis Childers, he said.
The representative played a “hands-on role” in helping the sheriff’s department develop its grant applications.
“All of them (senators and representatives) are there for us to help us,” Dickerson said. “Rep. Childers went the extra mile to help bring them through and to expedite funds to us.”
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