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Town police get new software

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By Ben Bomberger, Reporter

INDEPENDENCE — Police officers in Independence will soon be able to file all paperwork from the convenience of their vehicles.

Independence Police Chief James Wagoner asked town council earlier this year to appropriate $2,000 for the purchase of new software for the department's laptops.

Wagoner said in previous meetings that having the software in the police vehicles would keep officers on the streets longer — instead of having to spend a couple hours a week in the office filing paperwork.

The Catch 22 of the situation is that the department currently has the same software on its desktop computer in the town office, but cannot transfer it to the laptops.

“We can put that software on 25 computers in the office,” Wagoner told council. “We can have it all over town... but the minute we want to put it on a laptop we have to purchase a new license.”

Town Manager Kenneth Vaught noted that the town pays more than $2,800 to the software company for support of the software on the desktop. He questioned whether that cost would go up with the addition of laptops.

Wagoner said he didn't believe so.

Town Attorney Roger Brooks suggested the department consider dropping the license on the desktop computers and switching to laptops instead, especially if the cost would go up.

“That is the direction you are going in,” Brooks said of the new technology. “Anything you do on the laptop, you could bring into your office and use it there, as well.”

Vaught added that Wagoner could back up his laptop daily on the town's server to keep valuable information from being lost should the laptop computer crash.

Council Member Ronnie Sexton liked the idea of having the software in the vehicles and gave a clear reason why the town should approve it. “I know people have said if they see the town's police vehicle parked at the town office... they can just speed around. This would allow them to do the paperwork on the road... I think we should go ahead with it.”

Council Member Evelyn Hughes asked how Wagoner could “multi-task” while on the road. If he is concentrating on typing reports into his laptop, Wagoner might be unable to focus on what he is doing.

Wagoner explained that when he is parked on the road running radar, the Doppler equipment alerts him with a sound.

In other words, the officer can focus on typing the report while listening for the “beeping” of the radar. Wagoner said it makes a certain sound that lets the officer know the speed limit has been broken.

He added that police officers are trained to multi-task and do so constantly. While he is driving down the road, he looks at every car that passes — the driver, the license plate, inspection sticker and county sticker.

“It's something as a police officer we are trained to do,” he said.

Brooks tried to clarify what Hughes was asking, questioning how much “downtime” Wagoner actually had that he could use to work on his laptop throughout a typical day.

Wagoner said it would mainly be used during times he is running radar.

Council Member R.C. Cox motioned to approve the purchase of the new software. It was seconded by Sexton and passed unanimously.