Sheriff’s Office reports upgrade in equipment and personnel to better serve the public

Published 2:20 am Thursday, September 22, 2016

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By Fred Guarino
The Lowndes Signal
The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office announced recent upgrades in equipment and personnel Tuesday to help better serve the public.
According to information provided by Chief Deputy Chris West, along with Sheriff John Williams, the Sheriff’s Office started the year old by ending a two year, three-phase implementation of a fully digital communications system for the Sheriff’s Office.
The two reported that Hurricane Communications in Montgomery conducted a geographical assessment of the county and helped it come up with a system that provides VHF radio coverage to 97 percent of the county.
They also reported that two additional investigators were added to the investigation division.
West said, “We traditionally have had only two criminal investigators and periodically a narcotics investigator.” However, he said, “This past fiscal year we have been able to add the two additional investigators and enhanced their work area with an interview/interrogation room fully equipped with audio and video recording capabilities,” which he said, “will go far in assisting us in the war against crime here in Lowndes County.”
West and Williams reported the purchase of five 2016 police package Ford Explorers and one Ford F-150 four-wheel drive vehicle which will be used to replace older vehicles that have required too much maintenance with the F-150 being used to accomplish day-to-day work that requires a heady duty vehicle.
In addition, it was reported that the Sheriff’s Office acquired rescue and recovery vehicles from ADECA, a Ford F-250 four-wheel drive, a Polaris Sportsman 800 and a Polaris Ranger 800.
West said, “We are a very rural agency with a major waterway to the north.” He said there have been several drownings the past few years and elderly individuals have wandered from home. He talked out how hard the terrain in the county is and said the vehicles provided “will go a long way in assisting in rescue and recovery operations as well as other responses.”
West and Williams reported upgrading of the E-911 mapping system that allows E-911 communications officers to pinpoint emergency calls for assistance at precise locations on a county map.
West said the address comes up on a Google Earth backdrop with an overhead view of the home in need. He said if a caller uses a cell phone, there will be an area displayed of the 911 caller. And the mapping system displays a longitude/latitude for the exact location of residents in need of emergency response.
West and Williams reported an update of duty weapon systems as well.
West said, “We have traditionally carried .40-caliber Glock firearms for duty purposes but Sig Sauer introduced a striker fired 9 mm P320.
Williams said, “We let our deputies test and evaluate the P320 back in May of this year and they all were satisfied and pleased with the performance and handling of the new 9 mm pistol.” He said the decision was made to go from the .40-caliber to 9 mm based on the advancement of the 9 mm round.
West and Williams reported the Sheriff’s Office has also added body worn cameras as a basic piece of equipment to each of its deputies.
The two reported that the cameras will provide “transparency, officer/citizen safety and help to reduce frivolous lawsuits against the department.”
West said while a green light indicates the body camera is on, if it is not recording but is just powered on and a deputy exits his vehicle from some reason and an incident occurs, even if he didn’t have a chance to activate the camera, “once the incident is over, we can recover the camera and it has a program called after the fact.” He said, “We can go into that camera and place in the date and time, the bracket in which that event occurred and still pull that data from the camera.”
To close out the year, the sheriff’s office reports a decision to implement a motors division (Harley-Davidson motorcycles) primarily to be used to conduct minor traffic control issues, funeral details, parades, etc.
Williams thanked Carnell McAlpine and the Lowndes County Commission, Governor Robert Bentley and Jim Byard Jr. of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, Charlotte Tesmer and the Second Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office, Sheriff Derrick Cunningham and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department and the Mid-South Resource Conservation and Development Council.

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