Deputies To Move Into The Computer Age

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Gila County Sheriff's deputies are getting another piece of equipment to juggle in their cruisers: laptop computers.

A recent $85,019 grant awarded by the COPS More program will put 44 Gateway laptop computers in the deputies' hands, as well as two Gateway docking stations for Globe and Payson. Deputies will have the equipment in a few months.

"Undersheriff Harry Cain was our point man on this grant," said Sheriff Joe Rodriguez. "He saw this grant through from beginning to end."

Chief Deputy Byron Mills said the COPS More (Community Oriented Policing) program was originally designed to put more cops on the street.

Initially intended to hire additional officers in communities around the country, COPS More has since been expanded to other areas that may increase police presence in the field.

"By putting laptops in all of our patrol vehicles, the deputies will no longer have to come back to the office to do their reports," Mills said. "They can write up their information right there on the spot. They can stay in the area they're assigned to, which increases visibility and, of course, reduces response time when there's a call."

Once his reports are written, the deputy can take his report into the office on disk, pop it into a docking station and print out the completed version.

What the officers still won't be able do -- at least initially --is access state or national databases to check on a suspect. That still has to be done by the dispatcher, who then reports back to the deputy.

Mills said the laptops the county is getting should be upgradeable to allow that function, once technology allows for that.

"What this does is bring us up to a more modernized form of law enforcement," said District 1 Supervisor Ron Christensen.

Mills said when the grant was first submitted, Gila County was notified that it had been approved with a 25 percent match from the county.

"We submitted a second request for reconsideration of the matching funds, and put together a justification package based on the economic problems the county is faced with," he said. The final grant awarded included a 10-percent match.

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