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Grayson uses GPS to track deputies

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By Larry Chambers, Staff

The Grayson County Sheriff’s Department has installed a new system designed to improve the efficiency and safety of officers.
Sheriff Richard Vaughan said the department received a $106,000 Attorney General’s grant from the drug forfeiture fund, and part of the grant was used to purchase software for the Mobile Data Information System.

Vaughan said the department has 12 patrol cars, and they are all now equipped with computer terminals as part of the new system.
The system allows the dispatcher to send messages to the terminals, which will be helpful in case of a wanted fugitive, stolen car or other emergencies.
Vaughan said he had also ordered 12 cell phone boosters to install on each car.
“Deputies have a lot of trouble getting a cell phone or portable radio signal in some of the areas around Whitetop and other remote areas of the county,” Vaughan said. “I installed one of the boosters on my car recently and I’ve only had one cell phone call dropped because of the lack of a signal, and that was on Old Bridle Creek Road.”
Vaughan also pointed out that Investigator Bradley Brown was working on a case in the Whitetop area recently in which the suspect fled on foot. Brown tried to call for backup, but had no signal.
After a foot race, Brown finally apprehended the suspect in a creek. Luckily, there were no injuries, but as Vaughan pointed out, it could have turned into a dangerous situation and put his officer in danger.
Vaughan said the department has been working for the past several months to improve the radio system.
The mobile boosters will also help keep the computer terminals in operation. “I don’t think we will ever have 100 percent cell phone and radio coverage in the county, but the boosters will certainly help,” he pointed out.
Vaughan said another new feature is a global positioning system (GPS) that allows him to go to a website and check on the location of deputies and to see if they are driving or stopped.
During an interview, Vaughan checked the system and found Patrol Cpl. Alan Graham stationary on a call in the Elk Creek community. It also lists the date and time.
Vaughan said the system also shows the deputies’ speed and will help the department log closed business checks made by deputies.
“This system will help provide accountability for deputies if they are accused of speeding or other offenses,” Vaughan said. “You can also playback data.”
“It will be like having a sheriff’s office inside their car,” he explained, “because you can perform a variety of duties.”
The system also has maps to help deputies locate an area when dispatched to a call.
Vaughan said as part of the grant, the department purchased two new 4-wheel drive Ford Explorers and 16 AR-15 rifles equipped with infrared scopes.
“The department has received $264,802 in grants in the first five months of the year,” Vaughan said. “These funds help the department purchase needed equipment, and at the same time, save taxpayer dollars.”
Vaughan said he expects the new cell phone boosters to be delivered in the next several days so they can be installed.