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Thanks to a grant awarded to the Baxter County Sheriff’s Office by the Arkansas Highway Safety Office and a local match, the patrol division deputies now have new technology at their fingertips.
Mobile Data Computers (MDC) for the patrol division vehicles were purchased with this grant, along with associated ancillary equipment such as scanners, printers, and mounting racks. This equipment was recently installed in the vehicles and is now in use for issuing traffic citations, warnings, and preparing traffic accident reports. Additional features and upgrades will be operational soon.
The Sheriff’s Office has for several years now participated in the Select Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) with the Arkansas Highway Safety Office. Corporal Craig Kocka is the Sheriff’s Office coordinator of that program. Due to that position, he became aware of grant funds that could be sought for technology upgrades such as MDCs for the eCite and eCrash systems now in common use statewide. The Sheriff’s Office applied for grant funds to equip 19 vehicles with the hardware, along with 17 MDC laptop computers assigned to the patrol division deputies.
The grant required a local match. After learning that the Sheriff’s Office had been awarded the grant, the Baxter County Sheriff’s Foundation, Inc., a non-profit organization founded in 2009 for the purpose of providing support to the Sheriff’s Office and its employees, stepped forward and provided the matching funds that were needed. This eliminated the need to seek funding for the match from the Baxter County Government and the County Treasury.
The Baxter County Sheriff’s Foundation is governed by a nine member volunteer Board of Directors. The Foundation has provided the Sheriff’s Office with funding for many types of equipment and upgrades, as well as scholarships to Sheriff’s Office employees over the years. All of that support has been made possible by local benefactors who choose to support local law enforcement with their tax deductible donations to the Foundation.
The new MDCs will soon be interfaced with the Sheriff’s Office Records Management System (called iSOMS), including the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) component, and with the Arkansas Crime Information Center and National Crime Information Center databases. It is essential for law enforcement agencies to have portable, reliable technology that enables more efficient information sharing and data storage, quick field-level access to offender data, and other information so deputies can make more accurate and informed decisions. Having all of this information accessible in real time will support the core public safety job functions of deputies, increase efficiency, enhance officer safety, and achieve greater collaboration between deputies and other agencies.
The Sheriff’s Office hopes to expand the number of MDC installations in more Sheriff’s Office vehicles in the coming months and years.