While the paperwork required of police officers is substantial, the volume seen at Austin Police Department does not justify the cost of computerizing patrol cars, Rick Anderson, Austin’s new chief of police, said Monday at his first city council meeting.
Acting on the recommendation, Aldermen voted to return a $24,000 computerization grant to the Arkansas State Police; it was the only actionable item for the meeting.
Aldermen Laurel Carnes, Rusty Eisenhower, Kimberly Finley, Phillip Whiting and Tammy Williams attended the meeting, presided by Mayor Bernie Chamberlain.
On the proposal to add the mobile service to patrol cars, Anderson said that after a month on the job and after reviewing the proposed upgrade package, he did not believe the added expense could be justified.
In later remarks, Chamberlain agreed with Anderson. Although the initial computer installation would be covered by the grant, the operating costs would be borne by the city, and would be significant. If combined, the cost of the mobile digital support and the body cameras, which are already in place, would be nearly that of another officer on the force, she said.
Anderson explained the several factors are considered, including workload and area covered by patrols, Anderson said. While those are important for the State Police or Sheriff’s departments, where large numbers of events are dealt with every day, they did not justify the service for Austin, he said.
There were no accidents last month, “And from the tickets [officers] wrote? There ain’t nobody gonna get carpal tunnel around here,” Anderson joked.
In future, after Austin grows, there could develop a need, but at the moment the cost is prohibitive and another department could make better use of the grant funds, Anderson remarked.
After discussion, the Council voted to return the grant to the State Police.
Also during the meeting, Anderson introduced two new officers: Robert Larman, and Jacob Pettypool.
Both graduated last week from the Part-Time Police Academy conducted by Lonoke Police Department, Anderson said.
Both had perfect attendance while attending the academy, with Larman scoring first in firearms qualification, and Pettypool ranking second in academics.
“Both officers are active military and I’m proud to have them aboard our department and I believe they will be a great asset to our community,” Anderson said in a press release.