Police departments getting safety grants

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Three police departments in Marshall County are benefiting from grants, totaling almost $25,000, designed to improve highway safety.

Lewisburg Police Department is getting the largest amount --$14,999.96 -- for a network coordinator. Lt. Rebekah Mitchell explained that LPD had received this grant in previous years. Last year it was $20,000. As the network coordinator, Mitchell uses the grant to work with four counties, Giles, Maury, Marshall and Williamson. Mitchell organizes monthly network meetings for law enforcement personnel from the four counties, and says they usually listen to a speaker, eat lunch, and network together about traffic enforcement ideas, DUI detection, and other important topics.

They are running safety campaigns throughout the year, like Click It or Ticket and Booze It and Lose It, as well as checking child safety seats.

Another thing the network coordinator does is report safety statistics to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, where they contribute to decisions on how much federal money comes to the state.

Mitchell says some grant dollars are spent on overtime for officers running sobriety checkpoints and doing "saturation patrols;" some goes toward conferences and training; and some is for safety equipment like radar and video cameras in police cars, as well as laptops and printers.

Cornersville's smaller grant of $5,000 will also be spent on equipment. City administrator Taylor Brandon says they plan to buy two "Toughbook" laptops for the patrol cars. Ordinary laptops do not hold up well in the tough environment of a police car, Brandon says, but a Toughbook will survive being dropped from a height of six feet, as well as heat, vibration, and dust.

"It's a great way to get extra equipment," Brandon said of the grant that he says "happens every year."

Chapel Hill is also getting $5,000, and police chief Jackie King said they're probably going to spend it on equipment, like the big signs for safety campaigns, cones for road blocks, and so forth. King agrees with Brandon that the grants are a useful way to get extra money for equipment, or for taking the safety campaigns to the schools.